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Of thf Acadimie-Franiaise 



The Editor of An Englishman in .' 










M. Legouve's first Play. How the Idea of it was conceived. The 
Development of it. Prosper Goubaux, the author of ' Trente Ans 
ou la Vie d'un Joueur' and ' Richard Darlington.' Goubaux 'col- 
laborates' with M. Legouve. M. Legouve"'s First Appearance 
before the Reading Committee of the Comedie-Francaise. The 
Committee declines the Play. The Manager of the Vaudeville 
accepts it. The Casting of the Play. At the Dress Rehearsal the 
Authors conclude that the Play is worthless. M. Legouve writes 
to that effect to the Manager, asking him to withdraw the Play. 
The Servant forgets to deliver the Letter. The Piece produced 
and its Failure. The Author promises himself to redeem his Name 
as a Dramatist. Prosper Goubaux, the Founder of the System of 
Professional Education in France. The Pension Saint- Victor. 
Goubaux's Money Trials. His Interview with M. Laffitte. An 
Insight into a French School. Goubaux's Pupils. Whj he wrote 
' Trente Ans ou la Vie d'un Joueur.' A Corneille of Melodrama. 
The Success of Goubaux's Play. He writes another in con- 
junction with Alexandre Dumas. A Glimpse of the Author of 
'The Three Musketeers.' Frederic Lemaitre. His Suggestions 
to Authors. The Difference between Frederic Lemaitre and 
Talma. A Portrait of Lemaitre. Lemaitre and Casimir Dela- 
. Goubaux's Career as a Tutor. His Final Victory. His 
:d at the Hands of the State, i 


A digression on Dramatic Collaboration. Mme. Legouve* tells a Story 
Her Husband tees the subject of a Comedy in it. He seta to 
work at once to draw the Plan. Opportune arrival of Goubaux. 
They make up their minds to [collaborate once more. A few 
:ices of Collaboration. II -\ M. Lcgouve and Prosper 
Goubaux wrote 'Louise de Lignerolles.' A French Interior. 
The Authors are stopped by a difficulty. How Authors find their 

vi Contents 

Sensational Effects and Denouements. How M. Legouve found 
his. A true Story. M. Legouve finds a Letter relating to it among 
his papers and at the same time finds his Denouement. A peep at 
the National Guards in the late Thirties. The Dress Rehearsals 
of ' Louise de Lignerolles.' The Premiere. Success, . . 46 


The four Principal Interpreters of ' Louise de Lignerolles ' ; Mdlle. 
Mars, Firmin, and Geffroy Joanny. The combined Ages of the 
two Lovers. Firmin. Firmin compared to his Successor ; De- 
launay. Firmin's Appearance and Gait. His Style as compared 
to that of Delaunay. The Byplay in Love. Avowals Then and 
Now. No more Kneeling at the beloved Woman's feet. Firmin's 
Want of Memory. His Devices to minimise the evil effects of it. 
His last Years and Death. Joanny. His Peculiarities. His 
Punctuality. Expects the same from his Fellow- Actors. ' I have 
a Chicken for Dinner which cannot wait, etc.' His Ante-Theatrical 
Career. His magnificent Style. His Politeness. Geffroy. M. 
Legouve selects him to play a part in his Piece in preference to 
his older and more experienced fellow-actors. He becomes 
Famous in one evening. Mdlle. Mars. 'Was she Pretty?' 
' Am I Pretty ? 'Beauty On and Off the Stage. Refuses to play 
any but Young Girl's Parts. Her Reasons. Her Artistic Merits. 
Her Love Affairs. An Anecdote of her Early Life. Mdlle. 
Contat and the Black Thread. The Use of Slang on the con- 
temporary stage. Sardou's first Attempt to introduce it. Mdlle. 
Mars as a Dramatic Adviser. The Success of ' Louise de Ligne- 
rolles.' Mdlle. Mars afraid of Mdlle. Rachel. Her reluctance to 
tell her Age. Her last Years. Her Deathbed. Exit. 'The 
Ruling Passion strong in Death,' 74 


Eugene Scribe. The beginning of my friendship with him. A Letter 
to him and his answer. Scribe's Birth and Parentage. His School- 
days and College Chums. His beginnings as a Dramatist. A 
strange Collaborates. A scene from 'She Stoops to Conquer' in 
real life. How Scribe became the owner of Sericourt. My success 
with ' Louise de Lignerolles.' A Piece on an Episode in the Life of 
General Lamarque. -A qualified success. The balls of the Due de 
Nemours. Court Dress in the forties. Scribe wants to write a 
modern play for Rachel. I find the subject. Scribe at work. 
An Essay on Scribe as a Dramatist. Scribe as a Librettist. A pre- 
dicament of Dr Ve'ron. Scribe converts a dull tragedy into a 
sparkling comedy. Scribe's Stage Tricks. His Denouements. 

Contents vii 

His reconstruction of two of Moliere's denouements. Scribe as a 
Stage-Manager. Scribe and Louis-Philippe. Scribe as a Friend 
and as a Man. Scribe and his Love-Affairs. ' How happy could 
be with either,' etc. A Last Love. His Death, . . 102 


Rachel. Why ' Adrienne Lerouvreur ' was written. Rachel changes her 
mind ; the Piece declined by the Committee of the Comedie 
Franchise. The Race of Managers to get hold of the Play. M. 
Legouve's determination to impose the Play upon Rachel. His 
success. Rachel at Rehearsal. An evil foreboding. Rachel asks 
M. Legouve for another Piece. He writes it. The result. Rachel 
as a Dramatic Adviser. Rachel in her True Character. Her last 
Days, 172 


A Portrait-Gallery. Samuel Hahnemann, the Inventor of Homoepathy. 
How I became acquainted with him. Hahnemann and his Wife 
at my little Daughter's Bedside. A physical Portrait. His Direc- 
tions. ' Throw Physic to the Dogs." He predicts the Crisis to a 
Minute. He saves my Daughter's Life. The Paris Faculty of 
Medicine disgusted. A Doctor a la Moliere. It would have been 
better that this little girl should have died. The Origin of Hahne- 
mann's System. His Language. His religious Belief. The Sen- 
tence under my Daughter's Portrait. Madame Hahnemann. Her 
History. Her Faith in her Husband. Hahnemann's Dietary. His 
Death at eighty-three. Chretien Urhari. An ascetic Musician. 
His physical Portrait. How he reconciled his Religion with his 
Art. He gets a Dispensation from the Archbishop of Paris to 
play in the Orchestra of the OpeYa. How he did play. A 
and what came of it. His Visits to my Wife. A Lesson to a 
Lady of Title. His Reverence for the Composer's Idea. He i;t 
. es Schubert to Frenchmen. Jean-Jacques Ampere. Jean 
Jacques' Father. Absentmindedness of the Father and Son 
Ampere's personal Belongings. The Difference between the 
Father and Son intellectually, 205 


The Portrait-Gallery continued. Two Dramatic Counsellors. 

constitute^ Counsellor ? Germain Delavigne. A 

Trio of Sue kin^ ins. Scribe and the two Del.ivignes at 

wnrk. -Their 'I :, I >inners. V ^e of Subjects. A 

Witticism of Louis Philippe. M. Muhciauh. Dramatic Coun- 

viii Contents 

seller and Art Collector. M. MaheVault's one Client. M. Maher- 
ault's Father. The Origin of the Comedie-Frangaise of To-day. 
The Actors of the old Comedie-Fransaise during the Reign of 
Terror. The Difficulties of constituting the Comedie-Francaise. 
Council's Opinion. The Way it is Received. Virgil's Timidity. 
A French Counterpart of Sir Fretful Plagiary. Scribe's Way of 
accepting Advice. An Anecdote of Gouvion Saint-Cyr. How the 
Abbe was introduced into 'Adrienne Lecouvreur.' Maherault's 
Passion for the Drama. Mahdrault as an Art Collector. The Sale 
of his Collection. c If after Death the Shades can feel,' . 231 


The Portrait Gallery continued. M. Etienne de Jouy, the Father of 
the Parisian Chronique. The Salon of M. de Jouy. M. de Jouy 
as a Benedict. Mdlle. de Jouy, afterwards Mme. Boudonville. 
M. de Jouy's Guests. M. de Jouy's Talent for Parody. M. de 
Jouy as a Librettist and Dramatist. A Glimpse of Talma. The 
Libretto of ' La Vestale.' A First Glimpse of Meyerbeer. The 
Libretto of 'Guillaume Tell' suggested by Mme. Boudonville. 
Intended for Meyerbeer A Silhouette of Rossini, . . 257 


The Portrait Gallery continued. Lamartine. Lamartine's Pride. 
His Manias. Lamartine's opinion of himself and of La Fontaine. 
His opinion of Rossini. Beranger's opinion of one of Lamartine's 
Poems. Lamartine's kindness. As a Statesman. His first 
appearance in the Chamber. His wonderful capacity for grasping 
a Subject. His hatred of the Napoleonic Legend. His Prophecy 
with regard to the ultimate result of it. Lamartine and an Anecdote 
of Turner, the Painter. How ' 1'Histoire des Girondins' was com- 
posed. Lamartine goes to see an old Member of the Convention. 
Lamartine's Impecuniosity. The Revolution of '48. A Glimpse of 
a Revolutionary. Lamartine at the Hotel-de-Ville. Lamartine 
misjudged. Madame de Lamartine. Her Devotion. Lamartine's 
Funeral, 273 


The Portrait-Gallery continued. Beranger My first meeting with him. 
His position in the World of Letters. His moral courage. The 
Atheism of the XVII Ith century and ours. Beranger's Religious 
Sentiments. His admiration for the Literature of Greece. His 
influence over Great Men. Whence it sprang. His Wit. His 
love of poor people and of young people. Three Letters, . 309 



M. Legouve's first Play. How the Idea of it was conceived. The 
Development of it. Prosper Goubaux, the author of ' Trente Ans 
ou la Vie d'un Joueur' and 'Richard Darlington.' Goubaux 'col- 
laborates' with M. Legouve. M. Legouvd's First Appearance 
before the Reading Committee of the Comedie-Franc.aise. The 
Committee declines the Play. The Manager of the Vaudeville 
accepts it. The Casting of the Play. At the Dress Rehearsal the 
Authors conclude that the Play is worthless. M. Legouve writes 
to that effect to the Manager, asking him to withdraw the Play. 
The Servant forgets to deliver the Letter. The Piece produced 
and its Failure. The Author promises himself to redeem his Name 
as a Dramatist. Prosper Goubaux, the Founder of the System of 
Professional Education in France. The Pension Saint- Victor. 
Goubaux's Money Trials. His Interview with M. Laffitte. An 
Insight into a French School. Goubaux's Pupils. Whj he wrote 
' Trente Ans ou la Vie d'un Joueur.' A Corneille of Melodrama. 
The Success of Goubaux's Play. He writes another in con- 
junction with Alexandre Dumas. A Glimpse of the Author of 
'The Three Musketeers.' Frederic Lemattre. His Suggestions 
to Authors. The Difference between FredeYic Lemattre and 
Talma. A Portrait of Lemaltre. Lemattre and Casimir Dela- 
vigne. Goubaux's Career as a Tutor. His Final Victory. His 
Reward at the Hands of the State. 


morning while we were' , in tin- oumtry 

Lfl taking a stroll with my \\itr and one of my 

2 Sixty Years of Recollections 

dearest friends, Prosper Goubaux, the author of 
' Richard Darlington/ and ' T rente Ans ou la Vie 
d'un Joueur,' when all of a sudden there flashed upon 
me a title which seemed to me to contain a fit subject 
for a comedy : ' La Marche d'un Secret.' 

I had no intention of imitating La Fontaine in 
showing a secret travelling from mouth to mouth and 
getting magnified in its progress. Not at all. I was 
tempted by a more profound idea ; I wanted to de- 
velop the * physiology of indiscretion,' I wanted to 
dramatise the various motives which cause us to dis- 
close a secret that has been confided to us. 

The action of the piece was laid in the Pyrenees. 
It began with the conversation of two young fellows 
of twenty. One of these has just returned from his 
first appointment with a married woman ; his happiness 
positively chokes him ; he confides everything to his 
friend, because he finds it impossible to hold his 
tongue, because every young fellow of twenty who is 
in love or thinks he is must necessarily have a con- 
fidant ; it is the * indiscretion of love and youth.' 

As a matter of course, his friend has sworn to keep 
the secret. Unfortunately the friend is also in love, 
but with a widow who keeps him at arm's length. 
She has got scent of the affair and wants to know all 
about it and insists upon her admirer telling her. 
He objects ... he knows nothing about it, but she 
becomes very pressing. He refuses to surrender. 
She sulks or pretends to sulk. 

Years of Recollections 3 

' You do not care for me,' she says ; * if you did, you 
would tell me everything ; if you did tell me, it would 
prove your faith in me, and who knows but that I 
might be grateful in my own way.' 

The bait held out is too tempting, the young 
fellow loses his head and tells her everything. It is 
the ' indescretion of egoism.' The young fellow tells 
the secret confided to him. I had conceived a rather 
pretty ending to that scene. As soon as the young 
fellow had parted with the whole of the secret, the 
charming widow was supposed to rise from her seat 
and dismiss him with a smile, saying, ' My dear sir, 
heaven preserve me from entrusting my honour to 
a mm who cannot keep the secret of a freind.' 

Third stage. What will the widow do with the 
secret she has dragged from the young fellow? It is 
delightful weather and all the rest of the visitors at 
('auterets are out in the open air and enjoying them- 
She is alone with a gouty uncle who is some- 
what deaf besides. I low is she to spend her day, how 
ie to get through the wearisome hours? ' If I 
told the story to my uncle? No, no, that would be too 
bad of me. Still, it might amuse him. Besides, I can 
easily keep back the names, I can even say that it 
happened at B 1 of at Cauterets. Upon 

my word, I fail to see the harm of it, and I must do 
:hing to amuse the poor old man.' She tells him 
,d the third phase of the play is ' indN- 

all tin- vis 

4 Sixty Years of Recollections 

have come back to Cauterets, they are assembled at 
the Casino in the reading and drawing-room, and, as a 
matter of course, there is a good deal of desultory 
conversation. ' I think I must tell you a story,' says 
the uncle all of a sudden. In vain does the niece tug 
at the skirt of his coat to make him hold his tongue. 
' Don't worry yourself/ he answers in a low voice. 
' I'll veil the story carefully.' And so well does he 
veil it that after five minutes everyone has recognised 
the hero of the tale, and one of his listeners gets up 
saying : * Allow me to remind you, monsieur, that you 
have forgotten the most essential thing in your story 
the name of the husband. I am the husband.' 

Goubaux was delighted with the subject. We 
drew out the plan of the piece during the evening, I 
wrote it during the night and next morning we wrote 
to the Comedie-Fran^aise, asking leave to read to the 
Committee a piece in one act, entitled, ' Le Soleil 

A few weeks later we are in the presence of that 
terrible Committee which at that time was not what 
it is to-day, a kind of council of ten stolid and mute- 
like judges, making the author feel like a prisoner on 
his trial. The actresses, even the young ones, were 
present and their being there, threw a cheerful note 
into the proceedings. They laughed at % the comic 
scenes, they wept at the pathetic ones, the brilliant 
passages of a play were applauded, in short it was a 
kind of ' undress ' rehearsal which enlightened the 

Sixty Years of Recollections 5 

author with regard to the weak or strong points of 
his piece, even the silence that fell upon the listeners 
now and then served as a lesson. I am bound to say 
that during the reading of that particular piece it was 
the only lesson conveyed to me. It lasted for an 
hour during which I read with all the warmth, with 
all the conviction of an author of twenty-nine. I 
failed to produce a single effect, not one, and the 
final result was twelve black balls. The piece was 
refused unanimously. I had gone back to the 
country, and was trying to get over my failure as 
best I could when I received a short note from 

' The Committee of the Com&die- Franchise does 
not know what it is about. I have read our piece to 
Etienne Arago, the clever manager of the Vaudeville. 
He thinks it very amusing. He is going to put it 
into rehearsal immediately; he is going to cast it 
with the best of his company ; Bardou, that excellent 
Bardou, will play the uncle, pretty Mme. Th6nard, the 
widow, and for one of the lovers, he is going to engage 
-i young fellow on whom he builds great hopes. 1 1 is 
name is Brindeau, and I am told that he is very 
good-looking and has a nice voice. I'll write him a 
song for his first entrance, it will set him off all the 
better. Does that suit you?' If it suited me? 
Thru weeks Liter I came up from the country to be 
at the final rehearsal. In those days the 
Vaudeville theatre- was in the Rue de Cha 

6 .SV.r/r ]'t'(?rs of Recollections 

rehearsal begins, the chief of the claqueurs was seated 
next to me. When the rehearsal was over, he said, 
' It is not very strong, your piece, but we may manage 
to pick two or three good things out of it.' I leave 
the theatre, and in the middle of the Place du Palais 
Royal, Goubaux, a friend whom he had brought to 
the rehearsal and I stand stock still and stare fixedly 
at one another. 

' What do you think of it ? ' I ask. 

' What do I think of it/ exclaims Goubaux. ' I 
think it abominable.' 

1 That's what I think.' 

' And I too,' adds the friend. ' If I had had a key 
handy, I would have used it as a catcall. Don't let 
them play the piece if you can help it.' 

' He is right,' says Goubaux. 

' Well, I'll take it upon myself to go and see Arago 
and to tell him that we withdraw the piece.' 

Next morning at ten I rang the bell at Arago's ; 
it was the cook who opened the door. 

' Monsieur has gone to take a bath,' she says. 

* Can I write to him ? ' 

' Monsieur will find pen and paper on that table.' 

I wrote to Arago as follows 

' MY DEAR DIRECTOR, This letter will show you what you have 
probably never met with in the course of your management, namely : 
two authors who found their piece so utterly bad at rehearsal that they 
prefer to withdraw it. Pray consider our "Soleil Couchant"(" Setting 
Sun"), as a "Soleil Couche" ("A Sun that has set"), Sincerely 


Sixty Years of Recollections 7 

Having written which, I repair to Goubaux's as fast 
as my legs will carry me, and we rush into one 
another's arms like people who have just awakened 
from a nightmare. 

The second day after that I leave home at eleven 

in the morning and while strolling along, happen to 

my eye on a play bill stuck against a wall. Ye 

'To-night, First Performance of."Le Soleil 

Couchant." ' 

If a hundred thousand candles had suddenly been 
lighted, nay, if the sun himself had concentrated all his 
beams on me, I could not have felt more dazed. Of 
course there and then I rush to Arago's. The same 
cook opens the door and utters a loud cry on seeing 
me. * Great heavens ! ' she exclaimed, * I forgot, 
monsieur, to give your letter. There it is, monsieur. 
Don't tell master, monsieur, I'd get such a scolding.' 
The mischief had been done, there seemed to be a 
kind of fate about it; the best thing was to let matters 
take their course and to wait. In the evening I go 
and hide myself in a box on the third tier while 
Goubaux bravely goes down to the stage to support 
our troops. The first scene, that between the young 
fcllo\\s confiding their love affairs to one another, 
went very well. Knc<>uraged by this favourable be- 
I also go down to the Bardou ' was 

iblic laugh at some of his lines and when 
comes off,' he say-: ' It' .lit, my laU, I've 

got my public in hand.' At the selfsame mom* 

8 Sixty Years of Recollections 

faint, though strident sound, for which I can find no 
name, falls upon my ear. 

( What's that ? ' I ask. 

' That/ replies Goubaux, ' that's a catcall.' 

4 Is it?' 

The sound had been provoked by Brindeau's song. 
He was singing out of tune and they were hissing 
him. I immediately disappeared and went back to 
my box. I did not go down again, but from that 
moment the hissing went on uninterruptedly. I have 
never heard the like in my life. There were regular 
dialogues between the actors and the public. One of 
the latter had a newspaper in his hand. ' Give us the 
news from Spain,' they cried from the pit. Goubaux's 
three daughters were in an open box and simply 
shrieked with laughter. In about twenty minutes 
I turned tail in the most cowardly fashion. Goubaux 
stood at the wings, waiting for the actors to come off, 
and holding out his arms to them, like they carry the 
wounded off the battle-field. * My dear, good friends, 
my dear, good friends,' he said to each and all, * we 
really beg your pardon for having given you such ex- 
ecrable parts.' ' I wish someone would get me some- 
thing to drink/ said Bardou ; c The piece is over their 
heads/ murmured Mdlle. Thenard. Over their heads 
or not, the curtain had to be let down in the middle 
of it 

The papers said that the piece was by two men of 
wit, who would assuredly take their revenge on some 

Sixty Years of Recollections 9 

future occasion. I received seven francs, fifty cen- 
times for my author's fees. Next morning I said to 
Goubaux : ' The next time I am knocked about like 
that, my dear fellow, it will be at the Comedie-Fran- 
gaise, and with a five-act piece.' 

Two years later, on the 6th of June, 1838, the cur- 
tain rose upon ' Louise de Lignerolles,' by Goubaux 
and myself. Mdlle. Mars was the chief interpreter 
and the piece brought me more than seven francs 
fifty centimes. 



The reader has already been enabled to judge 
Goubaux, from the scene at the wings of the Vaude- 
ville Theatre. A dramatic author who in the midst 
of a failure pities his interpreters instead of reproach- 
ing them, tries to comfort instead of accusing them, 
and apologises for having given them bad parts, an 
author who does all that, paints as it were his own 
portrait, without the help of anyone else. Neverthe- 
this is only a profile, for Goubaux had two pro- 
two professions so utterly opposed to one 
to exclude apparently the possibility of 
their ever going hand in hand, yet, he proved hir 
::iincnt in both as if he had exercised but one. 
was a dramatic author and a tutor. As a dra- 
iithor he ranks fore-most among original 
As a professor he ranks among the public 
indebted to him fur a new 

IO St.vS)' Years of Recollections 

system of education. Yet, of this dual existence, so 
fruitful in results, what does there remain ? Not even 
a name, and scarcely a recollection. His dramas are 
published under a pseudonym of two syllables, the 
last of which only belongs to him ; (Dinaux). His 
educational work bears another name than his. He 
ought to have been doubly famous, he is unknown. 

It is this unknown man whom I would like the 
reader to know ; it is this richly endowed and power- 
fully organised being in his fifty years' struggle with 
evil fortune I would like to sketch. Few men have 
been more richly endowed by nature, and worse 
treated by fate than Prosper Goubaux. The one 
bestowed lavishly, the other grudged everything 
most persistently. The most cruel trials, the most 
insuperable obstacles uprose before him at every step. 
Well, it seems scarcely credible, but when endeavour- 
ing to place my finger upon the most characteristic 
trait of this man who laboured and suffered so much, 
I can only find it in that line of La Fontaine 

'Et le don d'agreer infus avec la vie.' 

Without a doubt his manly qualities were to the full 
as great as those merely calculated to please. In 
addition to his innate grace he possessed energy, 
perseverance, an indomitable faith ; nevertheless, with 
him the power to please made itself felt beyond 
everything, clothed everything, mingled with every- 
thing and finally determined everything. Whence 

s of Recollections \ I 

sprang that power to please? From his face? \ 4 

at all. From his general appearance ? By no means. 

He had a thick-shaped nose, a rather large mouth, 

small eyes, round, rosy cheeks like a child's, a good, 

but somewhat heavy figure ; a head that had been 

1 from his very youth and the hair of which 

nted by a chestnut silky fringe in the 

nape of the neck; but the forehead, the look, the ti 

ed so much goodness, cheerfulness, kindness, 
erity and sympathy that a mere glance at them 
bred the desire to hug him. 

Such was the man : here is his life. 

There are certain writers whose moral worth is 

inferior to that of their works. ' How,' it will be 

d, 'can the fruit of a tree be better than the tree 

itself? ' I am unable to say, but it is a fact, neverthe- 

if not with regard to the tree, at any rate with 

.rd to certain writers. Favourable circumstances, 

the choice of a happy subject, sometimes due to mere 

chance, a good position in society, a certain strength 

of character, capable of concentrating all its faculties 

on one point, or even a certain narrowness of intellect 

which allows them to confine themselves to 

ted order of ideas, all these enable a few men to 
invent the fruit of their intellect at the rate of a 
hundred per cent. Their hooks contain all that is 
in them, their inferior qualities are Carefully ex- 
Tom them ; a lucky accident does the ivst and 
often meets with people 

1 2 Si.vty Years of Recollections 

who are within an ace of being famous and who on 
closer examination turn out to be almost mediocre. 

Altogether different is a certain order of intellects, 
which, like the sun on certain days, rise upon the 
horizon bereft of their halo and which shed more heat 
than light. Those who only know them by their 
works, only know them partly, for the real book in 
which to read them is their mind, their heart, their 
conversation, their life. What then has prevented 
them giving the world their whole measure, what 
have been their defects? The defect was that they 
had a few good qualities too many. God endowed 
them with too liberal a hand ; they were too fond of 
too many things, they were apt at too many things. 
Their almost universal aptitude constantly impelled 
them to undertake different works, the public gasped 
for breath in trying to follow them ; in some in- 
stances they, the intellects, were weighed down by the 
sombre motto of Bernard Palissey : ' Poverty prevents 
great minds from getting on.' 

Such was Goubaux. 

He was of most humble extraction. His mother 
kept a mercer's shop in the Rue du Rempart, close to 
the Theatre-Frangais and which street has since then 
disappeared. His childhood was more than beset 
with trials, it was absolutely unhappy; a harsh and 
even cruel stepfather wielded his parental authority 
tyranically, and converted it into a martyrdom to the 
child who suffered from it, though wonderful to re- 

Sixty Years of Recollections 13 

late, neither his heart nor mind was affected by it. 
For six years he was maltreated without becoming 
ill-natured himself; for six years he bent to the storm 
without becoming weak ; for six years he trembled 
without becoming a coward. His first mental victory 
.1 wonderful exploit in itself. He was more than 
nine years old, I believe, and he scarcely knew his 
alphabet ; he refused to learn to read. His mother 
resorted to a very ingenious trick to make him. She 
took a volume of stories and began to read him one. 
The ardent imagination of the child was delighted 
with that beginning, but all at once, in the middle 
of the story, when the mother had her small listener, 
the playwright that was to be, under her spell, she 
closed the book, saying : ' If you wish to know the 
rest, you'll have to read it for yourself.' Eleven 
days afterwards he read it. 

Having entered college on an exhibition, he made 

such brilliant progress as to attain in his own form 

an honour, shared about the same time by two men 

who have become eminent, M. Cousin and M. Ville- 

main. In the absence of the professor, Goubaux 

his chair now and then, and became the 

her of his fellow pupils. From that moment he 

ived a dual quality rarely to be met with. He 

as fit to teach as to learn. That universal 

: Marvellous lucid:' 
v.-hich made the study of langu 
to him as that of 

14 \/.r/r Years of Recollections 

history as well as of music, all these were imported 
by him into his system of teaching. A born teacher 
as it were, he taught so naturally, with so little effort, 
and with such genuine eloquence that the same 
faculty showed itself in his pupils ; they could not 
very well pretend to a difficulty to understand that 
which he explained with so little difficulty. The 
clearness of intellect assumed with him the character- 
istic which seems solely reserved for kindness, it 
became contagious. In addition to this, he dearly 
loved everything that could be taught, he dearly 
loved all those to whom he could teach something. 
It was difficult to resist him. One becomes forcibly 
a good pupil when the heart of a friend obviously 
hovers on the lips of a teacher. 

He was fortunate in getting a number of lessons, 
for at nineteen he was a married man, and at twenty 
a father. He has often told me that, in order to in- 
crease his modest budget, he went several times a 
month to look after the books of a lottery agency 
whence he returned at two in the morning, singing 
and clanking his stick on the flagstones with a con- 
quering air, he had earned two francs and his supper. 

Nevertheless, a few years later, he was indebted to 
that intellect, which, without exaggeration, might be 
termed marvellous, for a proposal which was almost 
equivalent to a fortune. A clever business man called 
upon him. ' Monsieur,' he said, ' you have a great 
deal of learning and I happen to have none at all ; 

Sixty Years of Recollections 1 5 

but you have no money whatever, and I happen to 
have some. Suppose we were to enact Florian in prose, 
suppose we were to realise the fable of the Blind and 
the Halt. Let us go into partnership and open a 
boarding-school. Each will bring his own capital to 
the concern you, your intelligence I my money, and 
we'll share the profits. The offer was eagerly ac- 
cepted, and the St- Victor boarding school opened to 
the delight of the young professor, who found himself 
at the head of an important establishment. Never- 
theless, the purchase of the furniture and the house 
f had run away with a great deal of money, an- 
other partner had to be called in, and as a la*t pay- 
ment, a bill of 45,000 francs at six months had to be 
given. There were* two signatories to it, though, in 
reality, only one was responsible, and Goubaux was 
highly amused at having to give his signature ; he 
felt rather pleased than otherwise at the idea that his 
name wa- supposed to be worth 45,000 francs, it gave 
him an air of commercial importance which flattered 
his sense of dignity. 

the end of the six months, on the eve of the bill 

becoming due, lv >ry disappeared and the 

young fellow had to face that enormous debt, without 

my to meet it. I lis state of mind may easi 1 

ined. though he himself failed to grasp at first 

it of his misfortune, for these 45,000 fr,; 
the bane of his whole after life. A d 
45,OOO fr es not seem very formidable; in 

1 6 Si.vfy Years of Recollections 

reality, it may mean a burden of two, three or four- 
hundred thousand francs; it is an unholy pact with 
usury ; I have known Goubaux to borrow money at 
1 8 per cent It means days and prodigious mental 
efforts spent in renewing a bill, it means a superior 
intellect, intended for better things, draining its ener- 
gies in order to exorcise the law official armed with 
a stamped document, in order to escape from some 
brutal threat, in order to substitute one creditor for 
another; it means a constant and ever increasing 
terror at the approach of the last day of the month, 
it means the necessity of having to break one's 
promise a score of times; it means constant re- 
proaches from some quarter or other, sleepless nights, 
desperate combinations, it means, in one word, the 
worst and most horrible slavery the servitude of debt. 
No doubt, Goubaux might, like many others and 
with greater justification, have filed his petition, for 
he was being punished while perfectly innocent But 
he was five-and-twenty, chivalrous and honourable to 
a degree; he felt confident of his strength and intelli- 
gence and he had signed his name. Hence, he took 
an oath to himself that he would pay and pay he did, 
but it took him forty-four years to pay those 45,000 
francs, and when he died the last instalment of the 
debt had only been discharged a few weeks. 

The first crisis in that long struggle was terrible. 
One day he thought himself lost; he had to pay 
12,000 francs within the next twenty-four hours, and 

Sixty Years of Recollections 1 7 

he had not a louis towards them. That terrible 
word bankruptcy, the very sound of which rent his 
heart and made his lips grow pale, he would have 
to utter it. He had taken refuge with some of his 
relations in a room on a fifth story ; they were 
simply dissolved in tears, and mad with despair. 
He alone did not despair ; he was still devising 
means to avert the crisis. At that very moment a 
carriage passing below shook the windows of the 
poorly furnished apartment. ' Oh, those carriage 
>le, those rich egotists/ exclaims one of the 
company, ' and to think that to the man who is 
(1 in that carriage those 12,000 francs would 
be a mere nothing, and yet, if we were to ask him 
or his like to lend them to us, they would not lend 
:oo francs.' At these words, Goubaux looks up. 
Some one was preferring a charge against mankind 
in general, and that seemed an injustice to him. 
1 \Yhy should you censure that rich man who happens 
>o passing below, and whom you do not know ? ' 
he replies. * How do you know but that he might 
help me if he knew of my trouble?' 'That is ex- 
actly like you and your unbearable optimism,' is the 
' My optimism, as you choose to call it, is 
nly so much equity or sound sense.' 'Sound sense, 
you say. You have applied to a score of people, 
y one of whom has refused you.' 'They could 
help me.' 'Well, the one who drove by in his 
'age could help you, just go and ask him to do 

YM|.. II l; 

1 8 Sixty Years of Recollections 

so, and see what he'll say.' 'Very well,' exclaims 
Goubaux, ' I'll go, if not to him ; at anyrate, to 
someone who is as rich as he, and whom I know 
no more than I know him, and who will not refuse 
me.' ' You are mad.' ' We'll see about that' 

With which he rushes home, snatches up a pen and 
writes. To whom, do you think ? To M. Laffitte 
whom he had never seen, and to whom he tells in a 
few words .... But I had better give the letter 

* MONSIEUR, I am five-and-twenty, the father of three children. 
I am an honest and honourable man and people have told me that I am 
not without talent. My spotless name has been used as a means of 
speculation, to found an establishment. I am being crushed by a debt 
of twelve thousand francs and in three days I'll stand disgraced before 
the world. When all appeal to one's fellow men has been in vain, one 
generally appeals to Providence, I appeal to you. M. Delanneau who 
has as it were adopted me, will tell you that a favour solicited so frankly 
may be granted with confidence. It is the honourable poor man who 
appeals to the honourable rich man. 

' My fate depends on you. I am awaiting your answer in your ante- 
chamber. My family is waiting some distance from here. Have I pre- 
sumed too far ? 

' I have the honour to be, etc., 


M. Laffitte told the servant to show him in and care- 
fully looked at his visitor whose letter had impressed 
him. The unmistakable honesty of Goubaux's face 
impressed him still more, and five minutes later the 
principal of the boarding school was saved for the 
time being. 

Only for the time being, next day the struggle had 
to be begun afresh, for, first of all, he had to pay 

Sixty Years of Recollections 19 

M. Laffitte. Next day, other debts, becoming urgent 
in their turn, began to worry him like the first, next 
morning, in short, he had to take up once more the 
burden of the Saint-Victor Institute which had to be 
kept going, a terrible burden, especially to him. 
Goubaux had all the grand qualities of the professor. 
Science, a natural talent for teaching, a fondness for 
children, the art of managing them ; he was a match- 
less teacher, unfortunately for him, there never was a 
more execrable * Marchand de Soupe.' I am obliged 
to employ the vulgar expression, for which there is 
no synonym* Both his shortcomings and his good 
qualities rendered him unfit for such a part, for it 
requires three indispensable gifts, namely, 1st the 
spirit of order ; 2nd economy ; 3rd authority. Gou- 
baux was too embarrassed in circumstances to be 
careful ; he was too generous to be economical ; he 

too harrassed by impending bills to be master in 
his own house. A sad but nevertheless charming 
story will illustrate that struggle against his terrible 
servitude from which he managed to extricate him- 
self, as usual by his own seductive powers. One day 

f his pupils enter his private room, crying both 
with anger and pain. One of the masters had given 
them a cruel thrashing. Goubaux, beside himself with 

.nation, asks for his name, in order to dismiss him 

* The term is applied by the French lad to the principal of a board- 
ing school irrespective of the latter's liberal com- 
i:it, just as the term 1 de SommeiP is applied by the 
workman to his landlord. 

2O Sixty Years of Recollections 

ignominiously there and then. They tell him that it 
is the assistant head-master, at which Goubaux turns 
very pale and remains silent for a moment or so. 
4 All right,' he says at last in a subdued tone which 
betrays both his anger and confusion ; ' all right, go 
back to the schoolroom, I will speak to him.' 

Why this change of tone, why this sudden subsid- 
ence, why this confusion ? Why? Because that man 
was his creditor, who had lent him a considerable 
sum of money at a critical moment and on the con- 
dition of entering the establishment as assistant 
head-master. And Goubaux had no right to dismiss 
him. Goubaux was compelled to stifle his indigna- 
tion, his kindness, his feeling of justice, his feeling of 
duty. He was compelled to manage with fair words 
this savage brute who was not only cruel but incap- 
able besides. One may easily imagine Goubaux's 
feelings under the circumstances. 

But let us inquire for a moment what would have 
been the result of a similar situation in another insti- 
tution of the same kind ? What would have been 
the feelings, the behaviour of the two pupils and their 
fellows face to face with this denial of justice ? A 
violent irritation, a feeling of indignation against the 
head of the establishment, whom they would have 
accused of cruelty and of weakness. What did Gou- 
baux's pupils do ? They simply pitied him. One of 
them who knew the position of affairs, who was aware 
of his financial difficulties told the others, and their 

Sixty Years of Recollections 2 i 

anger changed into commiseration, they became if 
possible, more affectionate towards him. * Poor man, 1 
they said, * how he must suffer at not being able to 
protect us, how it must grieve him to be able only to 
defend us partly.' This seems so utterly incredible, 
that I should have hesitated to repeat the words, 
were I not in a position to name my informant. I 
have them from the lips of one of Goubaux's old 
pupils, from one of the two victims of the assistant 
head-master's brutality, from one of our most brilliant 
colleagues, M. Edmond Cottinet, who not only told 
me the fact, but added some characteristic details. 

' Surely,' he said, ' the Saint-Victor establishment 
left much to desire, the food was indifferent, order and 
discipline were conspicuous by their absence, the 
masters were often harsh and unjust, but M. Goubaux 
was there and his presence made up for everything. 
\\uuld you believe, that on one occasion when my 
mother, annoyed at something that had happened at 
chool, wanted to take me away, I positively re- 
1 to be taken. " It would grieve M. Goubaux," I 
answered. Not once, but a hundred times, when our 
discontent was at its highest and we were perfectly 
ripe for resistance, our anger vanished at the mere 
si^ht of his coming into the room to take the place of 
the ordinary master. He spoke so well and had such 
a fine voice. Everything he said went straigh 

ut and mind. He could mak v or 

laugh or think just as he liked. And when he was 

22 Sixty Years of Recollections 

gone, the memory of that hour was sufficient to make 
us put up cheerfully for a week with bad food and 
bad masters. Moreover, we were very proud of his 
success as a playwright. At the premieres of his 
pieces, there were always half-a-dozen of us on the 
field of battle, applauding frantically. His triumphs 
were virtually our own. In short, to this day, after 
a lapse of forty years, it does me good to talk of M. 
Goubaux, and I will tell you a story which will still 
further prove the spell he exercised over everyone. 
His eldest daughter had reached the age of twenty, 
but she had no marriage portion. A distinguished 
professor, and very well off to boot, asked for her 
hand. Why ? Of course you would say because he 
cared for her. That was no doubt one of the reasons ; 
but the principal reason was his admiration for Gou- 
baux. He married the daughter for the pleasure of 
calling M. Goubaux " father-in-law." ' 

M. Cottinet's words have opportunely reminded me 
of Goubaux's other profession, of his second self 
which agreed so well with his first. I used to call 
him jocularly ' Maitre Jacques.' * He often began 
the scene of a drama on a sheet of paper headed 
' Pension Saint-Victor ' ; he now and then replied 
to a letter connected with his scholastic duties while 
leaning against a wing, and his author's fees fre- 

* The French equivalent for our * Jack of all trades,' though the de- 
signation in French does not necessarily imply that the person thus 
designated is ' master of none.' TR. 

Sixty Years of Recollections 23 

quently went to replenish the empty exchequer of the 
schoolmaster. To whom did he owe the playwright's 
talent? To one of those accidents of which hi> 
istence was so full and which were at the same time 
the work of Providence and of his own. Providence 
afforded him the opportunity, he embraced it. 


Goubaux loved almost everything, understood 
even-thing, and felt an interest in everything ; hence 
he felt an interest in the drama just as he felt an 
interest in everything else ; I might say a greater 
interest than he felt in anything else. A man gifted 
with a fertile imagination like his has necessarily a 
strong liking for works of fiction. One day when 
dining with some friends, the conversation turned 
on the drama. An animated discussion ensued 
about the unities of time and place. One of the 
.\\ uncompromising classicist, contended that 
the principle of confining the action of a stage play 
to a period of twenty-four hours was not due to the 
mere whim of one literary legislator, that compliance 
with this salutary injunction was one of the foremost 
conditions of success. ' A piece, the action of which 
would extend over a twelvemonth could not possibly 
have any inti 

'No interest,' replied Goubaux with that dash and 
brilliancy which invested his conversation with such 
a charm, 'no interest 1. it would extend 

24 Sixty Years of Recollections 

a twelvemonth ? Why, if it extended over thirty 
twelvemonths it would be all the more interesting/ 

' Ha, ha, over thirty years/ exclaimed his inter- 
locutor, ' it would be as Boileau says 

' " Enfant au premier acte et barbon au dernier.'" 

' Exactly ; a child in the first act, and an old man 
in the last. That's exactly where the interest would 
lie, in the change time works in all things human ; 
in men's fortunes, in men's characters, in men's faces 
and figures ; nay, even in men's souls, in the gradual 
and quasi fatal evolution of the good and evil 

1 The theory sounds tempting enough ; what about 
the practice ? ' 

1 The practice,' repeated the playwright that was to 
be, getting on his mettle by being contradicted, ' I'll 
wager to write a piece the action of which will ex- 
tend over thirty years and which will make you 
shudder and cry.' 

' You write a piece. But you have never written a 
piece in your life.' 

' All the more reason to make a beginning.' And 
a few months afterwards he read them the scenario 
of what became the most popular drama of the 
period. * Trente ans ou la vie d'un Joueur.* He had 
written the piece as he would have done anything 
else, because the opportunity for doing it presented 

* The version best known in England is ' Rouge et Noir ' played by 
the late M. Fechter during his lesseeship of the Lyceum Theatre. TK. 

Years of Recollections 

itself. The moment he was in need of a certain 
talent, he had it, and there was an end of the 

When the piece was finished, he had to find a 
manager to play it. He was told to solicit the col- 
laboration of Victor Ducange, one of the most famous 
melodramatists of the time. One morning, therefore, 
he calls upon the man, who nodded complacently, 
and with a smile when they addressed him as the 
Corneille of the Boulevards. 'The work shows the 
hand of a novice,' says Ducange, after having heard 
the play, but there are a good many interesting things 
in it. What it really wants is a prologue, and I'll 
look to that. It is not enough, young man, to be able 
to cook a good dinner, one must also know how to 
lay the cloth.' 

A few days later Victor Ducange showed the pro- 
logue to Goubaux, who as a university man and 
professor could not help noticing sundry startling 
liberties the author had taken with grammar and 
syntax. He ventured to point them out in a timid 

1 My dear monsieur, the fact that it is I who have 
written this must and will suffice.' Goubaux did not 
say another word. 

The first performance produced a tremendous 

t. All the former rules of dramatic composition 

>ver like the walls of Jericho at the sound of 

trumpet. A new road had been opened and 

26 Sixty Years of Recollections 

Goubaux, whose success had been, as it were, a re- 
velation to himself, attempted a further step on 

The dramatist's talent is a very special and peculiar 
gift. It is not necessarily related to any other intel- 
lectual faculty. A man may have a great deal of wit 
and cleverness, he may be a capital scholar and write 
well, and yet be absolutely incapable of writing a 
piece. I have seen men of great parts, cultured men of 
letters bring me comedies and dramas which seemed 
to have been written by a child. On the other hand, 
I have had submitted to me, by people of very aver- 
age intellect, stage plays in which there was a name- 
less something which could not have been replaced 
by no matter what, which was not acquired, of which 
they would never get rid again and which unmistake- 
ably stamped them as dramatic authors. In one word 
it was the gift, and Goubaux had that gift to a 
supreme degree. With him everything was inborn, 
even skill ; everything was spontaneous, even experi- 
ence. Furthermore, seeing that he was a thinker as 
well as a dramatist, his taste led him to found his 
dramas on a character or on a passion rather than on 
a mere fact. After having written ' Trente ans ou la 
vie d'un Joueur,' he conceived the idea of portraying 
a life swayed by ambition * Richard Darlington's.' 
This time, however, he invited the co-operation of a 
real master of dramatic art Alexandre Dumas. The 
share of each in that joint work has been set forth in 

Sixty Years of Recollections 27 

his 'Memoires' by Alexandra Dumas himself with 
delightful sincerity and good-nature. 

To Goubaux belongs the primary and fundamental 
idea, the invention of the principal character, the very 
original scene of the elections, the dramatic interview 
between the King and Richard. To Dumas belongs 
the prologue, a goodly number of the most dramatic 
situations and the denouement. 

That very denouement gave the collaborateurs a 
good deal of trouble. The young wife of Richard 
had to disappear, but how? One morning, Goubaux, 
who was cudgelling his brains all the while, goes to 
Dumas, he rings, enters the room; Dumas is still in 
bed, but the moment he catches sight of Goubaux, he 
stands up in his bed, his long black legs showing 
under his white shirt He frantically waves his 
hands and thunders, ' My boy, I chuck her out of the 
window, I chuck her out of the window.' 'Her' was 
Richard's wife, Jenny.* Those who were at the first 
nuance still recollect the thrill of horror and 
terror when Richard with livid face, came back to the 
balcony whence he had flung his wife into the yawn- 
ing chasm. True, it was Frederic Lemaitiv who 
played Richard. The stage trick by which he 
rendered that reappearance on the balcony more 
terrible still, was not generally known in those days 
and few of the public suspected it. It was carried 

I have purposely made use of the word chuck instead of 'fling,' 

h even the former scarcely renders the vigorous but not \ 
fined expression of Dumas. TK. 

28 Sixty Years of Recollections 

out by means of an apparatus in the wings which 
threw a powerful ray of coloured light on his 
face and made it look positively green. To com- 
plete the effect he had arranged with the actress 
who enacted the part of Jenny that, in rush- 
ing away from him towards the balcony, she would 
drop the muslin scarf she had round her head 
and shoulders. The wrap was, as it were, staring 
him in the face when he stepped from the balcony on 
to the stage ; it was the spectre of his wife. Any one 
else would have shuddered or started back, or have 
resorted to an equally hackneyed device. He simply 
bounded towards it and picked it up in the twinkling 
of an eye, crammed it into his pocket like a handker- 
chief, and his new father-in-law knocking at the door 
at the same moment he went to open it with that 
insolent, devil-may-care ease of which he seems to 
have had the exclusive secret, while a bit of the white 
material kept peeping from his pocket and flapping 
against his coat. It was simply ghastly. Those were 
the moments that revealed one of the most striking 
traits of Frederic Lemaitre's talent: namely, the art 
of ' individualising ' a scene and to double its effect by 
some picturesque detail. Those who have seen him 
in it will not easily forget the second act of ' La Vie 
d'un Joueur ' when he wishes to obtain from his wife 
the signature which means her ruin ; the way he 
watched Mme. Dorval while she was hesitating to 
give it; and his gloating, half-muttered cry of ' She is 

Sixty Years of Recollections 29 

going to sign,' while she took up the pen. \Yhat 
after all, had he added to the text? A gesture, 
nothing more. He simply took a pinch of snuff. He 
gave the scene its tragic effect by dragging it down 
to the * ruffian's ' level. 

But the piece in which that talent verged on the 
sublime was 'Les Mysteres de Paris.' Eugene Sue 
had asked Goubaux to assist him in dramatising 
his novel. Frederic Lemaitre played Jacques 
I 'errand, the notary, the debauchee notary, the thief 
who is looked upon as a saint in the neighbourhood. 
The scene of the second act was laid in his office. A 
poor ruined manufacturer came to solicit his aid ; the 
office was full of people, the clerks were all at their 
desks. Jacques Ferrand was to give that unhappy 
and deserving petitioner a note of 500 francs. The 
authors felt very pleased at having introduced 
the incident of that well-bestowed gift, but Frederic 
himself, in the course of the rehearsals, seemed 
fidgetty and dissatisfied with the idea. 

'What's the matter? That trait of hypocritical 
generosity does not seem to strike you as true and 
profound?' asked Goubaux. 

' It's neither sufficiently hypocritical nor sufficiently 

profound,' was the brusque reply. 'Jacqi: .md's 

benevolence does, after all, not cost him very much. 

Then- is not much merit in 500 francs when 

has merely to take them out of on ibox. 

it often borrows in order to give, I will 

3O Sixty Years of Recollections 

not have anything to do with your note of 500 

' In that case what shall we do and what will you 

* This is how I would manage it if I were you. 
When the poor fellow tells me of his misfortunes, I'll 
run to my cashbox to get the money for which he 
asks me. But my cashbox is being constantly drained 
by my donations and only contains three hundred 
francs in notes. I'll make up the sum with sixty 
francs in five franc pieces, I'll even add some small 
change, and finally finding that I am still short, borrow 
the rest from my principal clerk. That's the thing to 
do, for the affair is sure to be bruited about and make 
a noise in the quarter. In that way I beat Saint- 
Martin, seeing that I take even my neighbour's cloak 
to clothe the poor. There is no doubt about my 
being a Saint after that.' 

In the fourth act he tried to introduce an effect of 
a similar kind, but this time the authors did not think 
it advisable to satisfy him. It was where Cicely, the 
mulatto girl, for whom he has conceived a mad 
passion, enters his room. At the sight of her, the 
instincts of the brutal sensualist assert their sway and 
lead to a scene between him and the girl in which 
entreaties, threats, tears, protestations of love follow 
one another in rapid succession. During one of the 
final rehearsals, Frederic was perambulating the 
stage like a wild beast in his cage. 

Sixty Years of Recollections 3 1 

1 What are you looking for now ? ' asked Sue 
laughing. , 

' Is there no means of putting a truss of straw in 
one of the corners, and so arouse a fear in the mind 
of the public that I might fling her down ? ' he 

Frederic had to do without his truss of straw, he 
proved none the less terrible in the delineation of 
Jacques Ferrand's brutal sensuality. On the first 
night he was waiting for his cue at the wings, just 
before that identical scene, when he suddenly turned 
to Goubaux who was standing by his side, and in a 
tone and accents which it would be impossible to 
describe, said, ' And now, I am going to give them a 
taste of my quality.' 

People have often compared Frederic Lemaitre to 
Talma. I once asked Goubaux who had known the 
latter very well whether the comparison was justified 
in any way, and he replied in the affirmative, ' for/ 
said he, ' the same word the word " genius " best 
describes both their talent.' Were they equal to one 
another? Perhaps, in virtue of the very difference 
between them. Talma was the god of tragedy and 
(Inn: leric was the demon of them. When 

Talma spoke about his art, his features assumed a 
kind of pensive though impassioned e <m of 

mcholy which was still further increased by his 
and in \eiy sentence of his 

with a nameless something both poetical and pro- 

32 A7.r/r Years of Recollections 

found. Each of his remarks showed the incessant 
pursuit of the ideal and the realistic, of the accuracy 
of tone and the beauty of sound. The rhythm of the 
line was one of his constant preoccupations. One 
day he was talking to a friend about the two lines of 
Hamlet to his mother. 

' Votre crime est horrible, execrable, odieux, 
Mais il n'est pas plus grand que la bonte des dieux ! '* 

' I am pretty sure,' he said, * of never missing the 
effect of these two lines. I have put notes to them ; 
the first line is an ascending scale, the second a 
descending scale.' 

Fre"de"ric Lemaitre never troubled about that kind 
of thing, and joining Goubaux's recollections to my 
own I feel tempted to say that Frederic was essenti- 
ally an artist of the earth earthly. What he invari- 
ably looked for was the accent, truth, passion and 
force. Added to this, he had some very grave and 
almost unbearable defects, he droned, and whined and 
ranted, when he became pathetic he became almost 
ridiculous, but all this was redeemed by one immense 
quality, the like of which I have never met with in 
any actor, namely, power. No one ever ' filled ' the 
stage, as he did. Then there was Jiis boldness of 
gesture, of attitude, not to mention his bursts of anger 
and indignation. His faculty for transformation was 

* This, I believe, is Ducis' translation of the two lines 

' Confess yourself to heaven ; 
Repent what's past, avoid what is to come.' TR. 

.'r Years of Recollections 33 

ty well unique. It is worthy of remark that he 
was equally magnificent in the part of Don Cesar de 
Bazan and in that of Ruy-Blas. But the most striking 
coincidence was that his features offered the same 
antithesis as his talent. The grandiose and the 
commonplace were inextricably mixed. Magnificent 

, a forehead beaming with intelligence and a nose 
which made you wonder how it could have come 
there. A nose starting as a Greek one and ending up 
like a trumpet ; a mobile, contractile mouth, equally 
capable of expressing contempt and anger, with a 
lower lip the corners of which were absolutely 
commonplace and vulgar. Talma, away from the 
theatre was simplicity and kindliness itself; Frederic 
was always attudinising, always acting ; at times he 

^ r gered like a swashbuckler, at others he swayed 
about like a Bohemian ; in short, he was the 
1 mummer ' in everything he did, in every word he- 
uttered. When he came to Goubaux's school to see 

sons, his arrival invariably caused a sensation. 
With his hat 'stuck' on the back of his head and 
striking the steps with his cane as he went, he inter- 
pellated the servants at the top of his voice without 
the least regard for the dignity of the place. ' You'll 
tell M. Goubaux that there will be no rehearsal 
to-da :, with all this, some amazing moments of 

grandeur and self-respect. Casimir Delavi^ne had 
entrusted to him the principal part in ' Marino 
iy he comes to i J in a semi- 

Vul.. II 

34 Si.vty Years of Recollections 

state of intoxication. The indignant author snatches 
the part from his hands, saying, ' You'll not enact 
my piece, monsieur.' His eyes flashing with anger, 
he rushes towards the poet as if to strike him to the 
earth. In fact, one blow from him would have been 
sufficient, but Fre"de"ric stops midway and in a 
subdued and trembling voice, says, * Monsieur 
Delavigne, I thank you for having given me the 
opportunity of showing you to what degree I respect 


My digression on Frederic Lemaitre is justified by 
the fact of his having been indebted to Goubaux for 
two of his best parts. But I am bound to remember 
that in reality in Goubaux's life, the drama was only 
an intermediate occupation, adding something to his 
budget and to his fame, but for all that an inter- 
mediate occupation. The true foundation and the 
dominant interest of his life lay in that Saint- Victor 
Institution to which we will return once again to leave 
it no more, for it is there that we shall see Goubaux 
accomplish his final solvency by a marvellous stroke 
of pluck and invention. 

Goubaux had with regard to public education ideas, 
generally accepted to-day, but which were considered 
very novel and daring when he had the courage to 
formulate them for the first time. What struck him 
most forcibly was the want of sympathy between the 

.y Years of Recollections 35 

education provided by the State and the spirit of 
modern society. On the one side he beheld society 
tending more and more towards industry, commerce, 
agriculture, applied sciences. He heard fathers ex- 
a wish for a professional education for their sons 
and demand special teaching to that effect ; and at the 
same time he was aware that collegiate or university 
education in no way supplied that want Literature 
was its sole object, there was no professional training. 
This anomaly had the effect of shocking a mind 
which was so essentially modern as Goubaux's ; that 
want worried him, he had felt for many years that 
something new should be attempted in that direction, 
but how was he to attain his aim? There were 
numberless obstacles in his way ; first, his own insti- 
tution, the pupils at which attended the courses at the 
I low was he to introduce the new system of 
education in that establishment without ruining it, 
and how was he to prevent its ruin? Furthermore, 
how was he to overcome the preliminary and in- 
superable difficulties? Would not the University 
just this innovation? Would the 
Minister of Public Instruction sanction it? In those 

vere no ministers like M. Jules Simon 
and M. Victor Duruy ; and M. Villemain had said to 

;ich college in France! not whi!<- 1 
Moreover, did not the air id with 

number of -:it and 

intellects who averred that to deprive education of 

36 Sixty Years of Recollections 

the solid and moral basis of classical tuition was 
tantamount to decapitating the intellect. According 
to them it was simply nothing less than materialising 
the age, than making the earning of money the 
sole aim of life. To all of which objections, Goubaux, 
with the authority acquired by long experience, re- 
plied : ' Why should that system of education be 
less capable of elevating the mind and the heart? 
Are we to take it that the Greek and Latin works 
contain all the heroic examples, the lessons of 
patriotism, the instances of strength of character, 
and loftiness of soul ? Is there no poetry which 
brings the ideal home to our lives and to our souls 
outside the poetry contained in the works of Homer 
and Virgil ? The world of science we wish to throw 
open to young minds, that world which means 
nothing less than the whole of the earth and the 
heavens, is that world not as good, as a means of 
education, as the study of some speeches by Livy 
or Tacitus? Will the intelligent contemplation of 
the grand work of creation and of all the conquests 
achieved by created man be less conducive to the 
knowledge of God to young men than the often 
uncertain interpretation of the remains of a dead 
language belonging to a vanished people, and will 
that interpretation make better men of them than 
that intelligent contemplation ? In short, does not 
the study of France herself, of her language and 
literature deserve to stand in the front rank of public 

} 'cars of Recollections 37 

education ? \Vhy then should there not be French 
colleges in France ? ' 

These words had the effect of impressing a goodly 
number of eminent men, but he was challenged to 
make good his words by deeds. From that moment 
his plan was virtually drawn up, in order to carry it 
out, he resorted to heroic measures : heroism is often 
synonymous with wisdom. His establishment held 
about a hundred pupils ; he dismissed sixty, namely, 
all those who attended the collegiate classes, and re- 
mained with the few converts to the new method. 
Apparently this was tantamount to committing 
suicide. How was he to make both ends meet with 
forty pupils when he had scarcely been able to do so 
with a hundred ? The position was all the more 
serious, seeing that his institution did not belong solely 
to himself. His creditors had a lien on it. To send 
away half of his pupils was to deprive them of half of 
their security. It was not a question of asking them 
for a delay or for a new loan, but he had to induce 
them to sacrifice their guarantee. He was bound to 
convert them to his ideas, to make them share his 
hopes, to inspire them with his faith. Well, after an 
hour's conversation they were not only won over, but 
convinced. They were not only disarmed, but con- 
verted. Thanks to his persuasive and spontaneous 
eloquence, he transformed his creditors into lenders. 
They not only did not ask him for money, but offered 
him some. People who have twitted the ant with be- 

38 Sixty Years of Recollections 

ing a spendthrift vied with one another for the honour 
and pleasure of affording him the time to await the 
successful issue of his idea. But this honourable 
competition to befriend him and this material assist- 
ance were not sufficient. A great many arrears of 
debt worried and hampered him, when, one morning, 
as usual, there sprang from the earth or descended 
from the sky a Deus ex viachina who intervened at 
the critical moment and enabled him to pursue his 
onward march. Truly, he was, as usual again, in- 
debted in a great measure to himself, the miracle was 
simply the harvest of what he had sown. On the 
loth of June '1855, I received the following letter 
from him 

1 MY DEAR FRIEND, I have met with one of those pieces of good 
fortune and spent an hour of unalloyed joy such as I have rarely, very 
rarely had in my life. The joy was occasioned by the visit of one of 
my former pupils who was kind enough to recollect a distant past and 
to acknowledge a debt to which I had never given a moment's thought. 
The piece of good fortune consists in my being freed for a twelvemonth 
from all care and anxiety. Such a thing has not happened to me since 
1820 ; my dear -friend Gilbert,* has drawn up an account between us 
the elements of which had no existence save in his own affectionate 
remembrance of me, because I never considered that he owed me a 
penny. Yes, Gilbert brought me yesterday six thousand francs. It is 
the first use he made of his recently acquired wealth. 

' However unexpected and useful this timely assistance has been to 
me, I was still more deeply touched by the act itself than by the money, 
and the tears which welled into my eyes were due to the fact, that, 
while listening to Gilbert, I was pleased with myself. I was debating 
with myself whether I would come and tell you the story personally, 
but was afraid of breaking down in the middle of it. I feel more sure 
of myself while writing than while talking. 

* M. Gilbert, who had been educated gratuitously by Goubaux had just 
made a very rich and creditable match. He is the author of two critical 
studies, one on Vauvenargues, the other on Regnard, both of which 
gained the award of the Academic Fran9aise. 

) V < -s of Recollections 39 

1 Good-bye, my faithful chum of 1837, my faithful supporter from the 
very day when I undertook that which I now hope to accomplish soon. 
A cordial shake of the hand for you and a kiss for your wife and 


A touching letter if ever there was one. Neverthe- 
less it wants a postcriptum. The name of Gilbert 
recalls to my mind another, that of Alexandre Dumas, 
the younger, who was also a pupil of Goubaux a little 
before Gilbert. One day the rumour spread that the 
elder Dumas had been wrecked and lost his life off 
the Sicilian coast ; Goubaux sent for the lad. ' My 
dear boy,' he said to him, ' I trust that this is a false 
report, but if it be true, remember that this house is 
yours. Heaven preserve me from pretending to be 
able to replace your father, but I'll do everything in 
my power to remind you of him.' And this happened 
about 1834, />., at the moment when Goubaux was 
most cruelly worried for money, and yet he did not 
i moment hesitate to shoulder that new burden. 
His o\\n misfortunes, instead of wholly engrossing 
him, only had the effect of making him more sensitive 
to misfortunes which were not his own. While half- 
ruined, he still thought of saving others from ruin. I 

iv that Dumas followed Gill' 

nple, He also remembered in due time a debt 

similar to that of Gilbert and which Goubaux had 

also forgotten. Thanks to all those instances of 

1 in spite of his own ity, Goubaux 

hi <>f the goal, but in order to reach it 

40 .V/.r/r Years of Recollections 

he had to travel a last bit of road which was harder to 
him than it might have been to others. 

A scheme like Goubaux's, requires, in order to 
succeed, three men: an inventor, a man who has 
the gift of organisation, and a good administrator. 
Goubaux was an inventor of the first water, his 
faculty for organisation was, however, very second 
rate, and as an administrator he ranked very low 
indeed. Luckily, he conceived the idea of charging 
someone else with the administrative functions to 
which he was so badly suited. Who was that some 
one ? The City of Paris. After having requested and 
obtained her patronage, he boldly proposed to put 
her in his stead and place. The City of Paris 
accepted the offer. The Saint- Victor Institution 
successively assumed the names of ' Iicole Frangois 
I.' <cole Chaptal,' 'College Municipal Chaptal,' 
and Goubaux changed his title of Principal of the 
institute for that of Director. The change meant 
more than the discharge of all his liabilities, it meant 
comfort and freedom from care. Freed at last from 
debt and carking worries, he had the satisfaction of 
watching, from the window of that room where he 
had suffered and contrived so much, the influx of 
more than eighteen hundred scholars within the 
enlarged grounds ; he had the satisfaction of seeing 
the walls of the original and humble establishment 
extend further and further until the establishment 
swallowed up the adjacent mansions and finally be- 

'y Years of Recollections 41 

came the centre of a new system of public education in 
France. But Goubaux was not content with having 
founded the method, he wished, before he died, to 
insure its future and he accomplished his wish by one 
of those strokes which virtually show the whole man. 

At the period when he was merely the principal 
of the Saint- Victor Institute his concierge was a 
man whom he particularly liked and respected. The 
concierge had a son, an intelligent lad. Goubaux 
noticed his intelligence and took him away from 
the porter's lodge ; no, he did not take him away, 
he as it were left him there, for the lodge meant 
the paternal home and Goubaux did not wish the 
lad to be ashamed of it. 

So he took him into the school, made him sleep 
in the dormitories, attend chapel and join the others 
in play hours, but every now and then the lad went 
back to the lodge to assist his father in his duties. 
And would the reader know the result of that educa- 
tion, and what became of the lad? He became his 
master's principal assistant, then his successor and 
finally the chief exponent and continuator of his 
method. At the hour I write (1885-88) he go\ 
that magnificent municipal college, yclept Chaptal, 
with a prestige and lustre which is only another title 
to ti t and honour of him who, as it were, 

his capabilities in that respect. It is not 
an institution of which the city may feel justly 
proud, but the ome derived from it < 

42 Sixty Years of Recollections 

amounts to a hundred thousand francs per annum. 
What I am going to say is scarcely credible, it is, 
nevertheless, a fact. Twenty-seven years have elapsed 
since Goubaux breathed his last and during that 
time there has not been one prefect of the Seine nor 
one municipal council to either of whom I did not ad- 
dress at least one humble petition, praying them, not 
to substitute Goubaux's name for that of Chaptal 
who has had absolutely nothing to do with the 
affair, but merely to add the former's name to the 
latter on the frontispiece or door of the building.* 
The name of Prosper Goubaux who did everything 
is still wanting on that frontispiece. MM. Hauss- 
mann, Jules Ferry, Calmon, Le"on Say, all of whom 
I worried until they must have loathed my very name 
have all given me their promise, not one of them 
has kept it. One day I decided to address myself 
to M. Thiers. It was at Versailles on New Year's day 
1873. M. Thiers had kindly invited me to break- 
fast with him in a non-official way, and just as we 
were sitting down to table, I asked him in a jocular 
way : ' M. le President de la Republique, will you 
make me a present for the new year ? ' * With the 
greatest of pleasure, my dear colleague,' he answered, 
laughing. ' What can I give you, I wonder ? ' 

Thereupon I told him the story of Goubaux's 

* Chaptal was a Minister of the Interior during the First Empire 
and died in 1832. He was an eminent professor of chemistry and 
made some valuable discoveries that benefited art and industry. TR. 

Sixty Years of Recollections 43 

heroic perseverance in brief, adding that the inscrip- 
tion of his name on the frontispiece of the college 
was his due, that it was virtually a debt of honour 
due to his children who had a right to claim it as an 
inheritance, that the inscription would be a salutary- 
lesson to all the pupils, and the only means of the 
City of Paris to discharge her obligations towards 

' You are absolutely right in what you say,' replied 
M. Thiers, with that spontaneous animation which 
constituted one of the charms of his character, then, 
turning to M. Barthelemy Saint- Hilaire he went 
on, ' I say, Saint-Hilaire, I wish you to write to the 
Prefect of the Seine to insist in my name upon M. 
Legouve's getting his demands.' M. Barthelemy 
Saint-IIilaire wrote the letter, which reached the Pre- 
fect in due time and was answered after that nothing. 
Nor is this all. I need not point out the sympathetic 

mess of our city fathers to perpetuate on tin- 
walls of Paris the remembrance of those who set 
Paris on fire. Well, in spite of all our efforts they 
have systematically neglected or refused, which c< 
to the same thing, to inscribe the name of Goul> 
at one of the corners of one of those modest streets ad- 
join i ollege Chaptal. Dors it not look as if the 
cruel fate- that weighed him flown during his life 
bent upon pursuing him after his death, as if public 
/ere bent upon pursuing the cruel j> 

te? After all, it does not matter much 1 

44 Sixty 1 'ears of Recollections 

may endeavour to efface his name from his work, the 
work will, nevertheless, live, and Goubaux is, in spite 
of everything, the ' creator ' of the system of profes- 
sional education in France. Let us, therefore, refrain 
from attaching the smallest trapping of woe to his 
memory. He would not thank us for it, he who al- 
ways showed not only a placid, but a laughing face 
to the blows of fortune. In fact, I may say, without 
exaggeration, that I never knew so cheerful a man, as 
that man who was so sorely tried by fortune. In the 
midst of his most terrible anguish there would sud- 
denly come a burst of laughter, like a ray of sunshine 
piercing the banked-up, sullen clouds. In a letter to 
my daughter, after telling her of the endless worries 
with which he was for ever contending, he adds : 
* Oh, by the by, on Sunday, we'll be dining with the 
Gilberts. I don't feel hungry yet, but the appetite 
will come in good time.' One of his last collabora- 
teurs was Michel Masson, gentle Michel Masson, 
who with his long, silvery locks and placid face 
looked like a white lamb. One day while he was 
working with Goubaux at some drama the name of 
which I have forgotten, Goubaux proposed a new in- 
cident. The idea does not seem to strike Masson, 
who with ever so many precautions and apologies 
hints very timidly and in a kind of whisper that the 
idea may not be altogether appropriate, ' All right, 
Masson,' exclaims Goubaux, rising from his chair, 
' it " y u are gi n g t ^ e angry about it. . . .' 

.SY.r/r Years of Recollections 45 

The most admirable feature of Goubaux's ga 
was that it not only sharpened his fancy, imagination 
and wit, but that it assumed one of the forms by 
which he manifested his indomitable pluck. Men, 
nay even God, might abandon him, he steadfastly 
refused to strike or desert his flag. One of our 
common friends, a lady, said, ' If M. Goubaux fell 
into the sea, and had been absolutely drowned for 
more than an hour, people would still see his arms 
frantically waving above the water and his voice cry 
for help.' Such was the man ; he had faith, hope and 
charitv, and these saved him. 


A digression on Dramatic Collaboration. Mme. Legouve tells a Story. 
Her Husband sees the subject of a Comedy in it. He sets to 
work at once to draw the Plan. Opportune arrival of Goubaux. 
They make up their minds to 'collaborate once more. A few 
instances of Collaboration. How M. Legouve and Prosper 
Goubaux wrote 'Louise de Lignerolles.' A French Interior. 
The Authors are stopped by a difficulty. How Authors find their 
Sensational Effects and Denouements. How M. Legouve found 
his. A true Story. M. Legouve finds a Letter relating to it among 
his papers and at the same time finds his Denouement. A peep at 
the National Guards in the late Thirties. The Dress Rehearsals 
of ' Louise de Lignerolles.' The Premiere. Success. 


THE system of collaboration is very much decried 
nowadays ; I will only say a few words in its defence. 
Let us suppress for a moment the results of collabora- 
tion from the French repertory for the last sixty years, 
and by the same stroke of the pen we lose a great 
part of the dramatic work of Scribe, nearly the whole 
of the dramatic work of Bayard, Mlesville, Duma- 
noir, Dennery, the whole of the dramatic work of 
Labiche, of Barriere, the whole of the dramatic work 
of Duvert and Lausanne, the whole of the dramatic 
work of Meilhac and HaleVy, and last of all, five of 
the masterpieces in the domains of comedy and the 

Sixty Years of Recollections 47 

drama. In comedy we lose ' Le Gendre de M. 
Poirier,' 'Mademoiselle de la Scigliere' and 'Made- 
moiselle de Belle-Isle/ for though these works bear 
the name of one author only on their title pages, 
they are, nevertheless, the work of two authors. In 
the drama we lose ' La Tour de Nesle' and ' Richard 
Darlington.' No one respects and admires more 
than I the immortal works which, ' fully armed ' have 
sprung from one brain, such as ' QEdipe Roi,' 
' Macbeth,' ' Polyeucte,' ' Britannicus.' But are there 
not, even among the masterpieces, stage plays due to 
the association of two men of genius ? Is not ' Le 
Cid' by Corneille and Guillen de Castro? Is not 
' Iphigenie ' by Racine and Euripides ; is not ' Phedre ' 
by Racine, Euripides and Seneca. Are there many 
collaborateurs that have assisted their temporary 
partners more effectively than Plautus helped Moliere 
in Amphitryon' and ' L'Avare. Is not the best act 
of the 'Psyche' of Moliere the work of Corneille? 
It seems to me that a form of art to which we 

such works, which causes our drama to r 
throughout the whole of Europe deserves something 
r than supercilious contempt, leaving alone the 
that a number of brilliant but incom] 
intellects which, if left to their own resources would 
remained barren, have been lifted out of them- 
y that kind of association and proved the 
sufficiently novel rule in arithmetic that twice one 

48 Sixty Years of Recollections 

No one, then, need be surprised at my taking up 
the cudgels for collaboration ; I am indebted to it 
for three friends ; Goubaux, Scribe and Labiche ; and 
if the pieces I wrote by myself; * Medee,' ' Par droit 
de conquete,' and ' Un jeune homme qui ne fait rien,' 
have not been less successful than the others it is pro- 
bably because I remembered while writing them what 
I had learned during my collaboration with others. 

Collaboration has at least this privilege, it arouses 
to a strange degree the curiosity of the outside world. 
Not once but a hundred times have I been asked : 
' But how do two authors manage to write one piece; 
in what way is it constructed, in what way is it 
written ? ' I doubt whether I could give them a 
better idea of that method of work than by showing 
them a ' collaboration ' in the act. 

I s had been married about three years and was con- 
stantly thinking of redeeming my failure when one 
morning my wife, while talking about some of her 
school friends, all of a sudden uttered the name of Clelie. 
1 Clelie,' I repeated, laughing, ' how does she come by 
that name? Is she a young Roman woman?' 'By 
birth, no, but in face and feeling, yes. Handsome, 
dark, tall, with a profile like that of an old medal 
and eyes both full of sweetness and courage, Clelie 
added to those energetic traits a kind of bantering 
spirit which she showed under rather curious circum- 
stances.' ' Tell me all about it,' I said. 

' The story is worth telling,' said my wife. ' She 

.V/.r/r Years of Recollections 49 

had been married for something like four years to a 
Creole who was passionately fond of her, they were 
living in a nice country place at Vineuil near Chan- 
tilly. The old Prince de Bourbon was still alive 
and his magnificent hunts had made that part of the 
country famous. One day the stag having jumped 
the hedge of Clelie's garden, the whole of the pack, 
the huntsmen and some of the gentlemen of the hunt 
themselves followed suit and virtually enacted the 
fable of La Fontaine. Next morning, Cllie, whose 
husband happened to be absent at the time, wrote 
very politely, but at the same time very firmly to the 
Prince complaining of the damage that had been 
done and expressing the formal desire that the 
thing should not occur again. A week later there 
another hunt and another invasion of her domi- 
cile. Clelie was sitting in her small drawing-room 
engaged with some embroidery when the servant came 
to tell her that the stag had leaped into the garden, 
that the pack had come after it, and that the hunts- 
men and the rest were tearing at full speed in the 
direction of the hed lie gets up very quietly, 

rvants to sei/e two of the handsomest 
hounds in the pack and, followed by her gardener who 
at her command has caught up his -un, pr< 
the hcd-e, holding her piece of embroidery. At the 

moment two young fellows on 1 
on the other the hedge. 'Stop gentlemen, 1 

u t<> conn- any further/ she >ays, still put; 
\oi.. ii D 

50 Si.vty Years of Recollections 

in a stitch here and there. Great surprise of the two 
young fellows who begin to banter her in a good- 
natured way, urging their horses meanwhile to take 
the jump. ' If you move another step, gentlemen,' 
says Cle"lie, ' my gardener will fire on you without the 
slightest compunction. This is an absolute case of 
trespass/ she adds, laughing, 'and I have assuredly 
the right to defend myself. Oh, by-the-bye, before I 
forget, you may tell the Prince that I hold two of his 
best hounds as hostages.' After hesitating for a 
moment or so the young fellows lifted their hats and 
turned their horses' heads. The hunt had virtually 
been stopped, the stag ' got away ' and the negotia- 
tions between the Prince and Clelie for the restitution 
of the two staghounds brought about a correspond- 
ence and a series of proposals, terminating amidst all 
the courtly graces of the ancien regime, with the ap- 
pearance of Clelie in the Prince's drawing-rooms with 
all the honours of war thick upon her. 

My wife's story had worked me up to such a pitch 
that I scarcely gave myself time to finish my break- 
fast. I rushed to my writing-table, and before night- 
fall I had built up and written the whole of a first 
act. Goubaux happening to come in to take 'pot- 
luck,' I read him what I had written during the day. 
' The deuce,' he exclaimed, ' but there is sufficient 
material there for a five-act drama. That woman is 
a character, and oh a character one can build up a 
drama.' * Yes,' I replied, ' the. thing is to find your 

.;;' rears of Recollections 51 

drama.' ' That's simple enough. You have only got 
to find some pathetic situation, calculated to bring 
into relief such a person, and after all, there are 
only two situations of that kind. Are we to depict 
her struggling against an intense passion, or contend- 
ing with a great grief? Are \ve to paint her in the 
light of a victim, or of a guilty woman? If she have 
a lover. . . .' I left him no time to finish the sen- 
tence. ' No lover,' I exclaimed, ' I'll never consent to 
give her a lover. It would be tantamount to sullying 
her character, and to convert her into a vulgar type. 
It would merely make us relapse into the hackneyed 
drama of the adulterous woman.' ' Very well,' re- 
marked Goubaux laughing, ' but if you refuse to 
provide her with a lover, you'll have to provide her 
husband with a mistress. The interest would lie in 
the showing of a character like hers struggling with 
regret, sorrow, irritation, against the desire for venge- 
ance ; in short, in half-a-dozen aspects, to be de- 

i on eventually.' * That suits me better,' I said. 
Thereupon, Goubaux turning to my wife began to 

lion her. 'Tell me, madame,' he said, 'what was 
this ('Iclie like as a woman; what sort of man was 

husband, and what sort of life did they lead 

' It was a very stormy life indeed. 

passionately fond of her, the husband let his 

,i nation run riot ; he was fickle and capricious like 
all ( mscqueiitly his life was pretty well spent 

in deceiving his wife and in asking her pardon, but 

52 vSY.r/r Years of Recollections 

on his bended knees and with tears, and sobs and 
promises not to repeat the offence, the whole accom- 
panied by recurrent periods of conjugal passion, all 
the more ardent from their being complicated by 
remorse, and what was worse, sincere remorse.' * And 
she ? ' * She listened to it all, submitted to every- 
thing, with a mixture of dignity, intense grief and 
suppressed tears that made her like one of the 
women depicted by Corneille.' 

'Well,' I exclaimed, 'here we have got the stand- 
point of our two characters, all we have got to do is 
to inflict upon her a sufficient amount of suffering in 
order to make her abandon her apparently calm 
attitude, to make her groan and shriek with rage and 
grief, in short, to make the faithlessness of the husband 
the leading motive of the play. We must prove, by 
a very vigorous dramatic action, that such faithless- 
ness may be fraught with as much danger and lead to 
as many catastrophes as the faithlessness of the wife/ 
' It is decidedly an excellent subject,' exclaimed 
Goubaux. ' In that case, let us set to work at once, 
my dear Goubaux, and just teach me my craft, by 
writing this piece with me.' 

This, then, is the way in which the primary sketch 
of a piece is drawn by two authors working in con- 
junction, it is virtually a conversation between these 
two on a given subject. The one supplies the idea or 
the fact, the other discusses it with him, they get 
talking together, looking for ideas, suggesting to, and 

Sixty Years of Recollections 53 

contradicting one another ; the shock of two minds 
produces the fusion of ideas, and from the fusion 
springs the plan. When the plan is finished, it has to 
be carried out. 

There are various ways of carrying out a plan 
sketched by two authors. In some instances, one of 
the authors undertakes to sketch the whole of the 
work, which the other fills in and finishes. In others 
the acts are divided between them ; the one writes 
the first two acts, the other the last three, the whole 
is revised by both. 

Labiche and I wrote ' La Cigale chez les Fourmis ' 
without ever working together. One day I met him 
coming out of the Thc&tre-Frangais, to the Committee 
<>f which he had just been reading a one-act comedy, 
entitled, 'Les Fourmis.' He was dissatisfied and 
more or less hipped and offended. The Committee 
had accepted his piece, but lukewarmly not to say 
coldly, and solely because it was by him. ' The 
Committee is simply absurd,' he said, 'the piece is 
very amusing, and there is a capital part for Pro- 
vost. I should like you to read it.' With which 
lie hands me the piece. Two days later I gave him 
my opinion. 'My dear LabiYlu-,' I said, laughin i 
am inclined to side with the Committee. The first 
third of the IS delightful, the rest should be 

i. What you want in it is a young g 
Face to face with the frugal, saving ants, you 
want a lavish >pper.' 'Your idea 

54 Sixty Years of Recollections 

strikes me as excellent; will you rewrite the piece 
by yourself?' 'I can, at any rate, try. I leave for 
Cannes to-morrow, I'll take your manuscript with 
me and in a fortnight I'll show you what I have 

I returned in a fortnight, I showed him the piece; 
we read it to the Committee, it is accepted and played 
and we score a genuine success, on the occasion of 
which I composed the following small distich 

' Entre Labiche et moi la partie est egale ; 
II a fait les Fourmis et j'ai fait la Cigale? 

Goubaux and I did the very reverse, but our coll- 
aboration was none the less curious. The new year's 
holidays being at hand, Goubaux publicly informed 
his pupils that he was going to take a short journey. 
The journey was very short indeed, for it merely 
consisted in his taking his dressing-bag and a change 
of linen from the Rue Blanche, where his school was 
situated, to my house in the Rue Saint-Marc where 
he took up his quarters in a small room adjoining the 
drawing-room. I, on my side, announced to all and 
sundry that we were going away for a week, and 
when we had lowered the blinds of the windows look- 
ing into the courtyard, we three, Goubaux, my wife 
and I were virtually isolated from the world, and our 
life of reclusion began. 

At seven in the morning, we two, Goubaux and I, 
were in my study where we found the fire lighted, the 

Si.vty Years of Recollections 5 5 

tea prepared and the mistress of the house enacting 
the part of Charlotte in ' \Verther' to us, she was cut- 
ting bread and butter. After a quarter of an hour of 
cheerful gossip and laughter we set to work. Seated 
at the same writing table, opposite one another, we 
looked like a couple of schoolboys doing their lessons. 
We were positively in ecstasy with the thing. The 
most curious feature of the arrangement, perhaps, was 
that we began the same act at the beginning and at 
the same time. Starting from the pre-arranged plan, 
we began both at the first scenes, and in that way \\v 
wrote the first act, each bringing to the dialogue and 
to the portrayal of the characters his individuality of 
fancy or reflection. At mid-day we three breakfasted 
together, or rather we four, for my little daughter 
who was about two, made her appearance at that 
hour; and her wondering looks, her plump little 
cheeks, her dress, a masterpiece of maternal taste 
and coquettishness, her earnest demeanour as she 
sat in her high chair, the drollery of her answers, 
(children have the knack of enunciating such unex- 
cd ideas, as to give one the impression that they 
have really a sense of humour) constituted one of the 
amusing parts of the breakfast. It was strictly for- 
bidden to sp^ak of or to allude to our work during 
the ; :iich prohibition did not prevent my wife 

from noticing with a smile, our anxious or beaming 
looks and to deduct from them favourable prognosti- 
cations or the reverse. After breakfast, we ha 

56 Sixty Years of Recollections 

hour's music, which had the effect of soothing our 
minds, while at the same time it served as a reward 
and as an encouragement or stimulant to further ex- 
ertions. There is a mysterious bond between all 
the arts. A melodious piece of music often has the 
effect of inspiring you with a happy line, and during 
that period of work Weber or Beethoven or Schu- 
bert has often assisted me in overcoming a difficulty 
in this or that scene. 

At the end of ten days, Goubaux's holidays being 
about to expire and our two acts being finished, we 
summoned the reading committee, which committee 
was composed of my wife. ' I am assuming the 
functions of Laforet,* she said, settling herself com- 
fortably in an armchair with her embroidery. We 
each brought our exercises, and she added laughing, 
' Little boy Goubaux, let us hear what you have 

The double lecture led to many interruptions. It 
was I who exclaimed now and then while listening 
to Goubaux, 'Well done, that's better than mine.' 
' Don't influence the Court,' said my wife gravely. 
And the Court, after having heard both sides and 
being asked to state which of the acts she preferred 
answered, * I fancy I prefer them both ; both have 
amused me, but not in the same places. The begin- 
ning of the piece seems to me more striking in M. 

* Moliere's servant, to whom he is said to have read his plays while 
composing them, TK. 

.SY.r. f of Recollections 57 

Goubaux's manuscript, but the end of the same has 
pleased me better in M. Ernest Legouve's. I like 
the woman's part better in the one and the father's 
part better in the other. It strikes me that by fus- 
ing the two versions into one we'll get a perfect union 
like ours.' 

* This is Solomon's wisdom unalloyed,' exclaimed 
M. Goubaux ; ' and as I have to resume my collar 
to-morrow, Legouve will accomplish the union.' 

So said so done. We spent the winter in finishing 
the piece and in the beginning of spring went to 
Kugene Sue to read it to him. He placed himself 
at his easel in order to listen to us, for he professed to 
be able to listen best when painting. 

The effect produced was both excellent and dis- 
astrous at the same time. The first three acts were 
1 a great success, the other two considered exe- 
crable. No amount of corrections, of improvements, 
of excision would mend' them, they had simply to be 
put aside and new ones written in their stead. All 
the pluck had been taken out of us, and four months 
elapsed during which we cudgelled our brains in vain 
for a new solution. We wen- he-inning to -ive up 
all hope of success, when unexpected aid, a provi- 
dential auxiliary . out of our difficulty. Who 
and what wa^ that auxiliary? A third collaborateur. 
\\h<> was that third collaborates ? A very curious 
11 comes to the aid of authors 
as a rule, invoke no one's aid, and of whom, the 

58 StJi'fy Years of Recollections 

personage, it would therefore be well to say a few 
words in this chapter on collaboration. The in- 
dividual's name is * Chance.' 

Chance, in fact, plays a great part in dramatic 
conceptions. A word picked up at random, a book 
one happens to read, a person one happens to meet, 
may suggest all at once the very idea for which one 
has been looking in vain. 

In 1849, Emile Augier was superintending the re- 
hearsals of ' Gabrielle,' at the Th&itre-Francais. All 
went well until the fifth act, when the whole seemed 
to come to a sudden stop. Both authors and actors 
felt the necessity of some vigorous, unforeseen situa- 
tion, in order to put life into that act. Augier cud- 
gelled his brain to no purpose, he could find nothing. 
One morning he is strolling along the Quai des 
Saint-Peres, when on reaching the Pont des Arts, he 
notices in front of him, and looking at the ' Institute,' 
a man of about forty, accompanied by his little 
daughter. Owing to the early hour, the bridge was 
almost deserted, and the child, finding herself un- 
hampered in her movements, ran on in front, then 
came back to her father, flung herself into his arms, 
while he lifted her up to kiss her amidst her pileasant 
laughter and her embraces. The picture was abso- 
Jutely delightful, and Augier, who had been watch- 
ing them, could not help exclaiming, * Bravo.' The 
gentleman was none other than the chief interpreter 
of ' Gabrielle,' M. Regnier, the little girl was his 

SLvtv Years of Recollections 59 

daughter. * Have you any children, Sir Ambassa- 


dor?' (Etes vous pere, monsieur 1'ambassadeur ?) * 
asked the artist in response to Augier's ' Bravo.' ' No 
I have only my sister's children,' replied the dram- 
atist. They stand talking for a moment or so, and 
each goes his respective way, the poet musing upon the 
picture he had just seen. The gambols of the little 
one, the two faces, their looks, their laughter, had 
suddenly evoked such a vivid image of paternal 
tenderness, as to show him his fifth act in an alto- 
gether new light. The father of the piece all at once 
assumes grandiose proportions which is the very thing 
wanted for the denouement, and the author goes 
home to write one of the most touching scenes of the 
modern drama. I only quote the beginning of it : n'existons vraiment que par ces petits etres 
Qui dans tout notre coeur s'etablissent en maitres, 
' jui prennent notre vie et ne s'en doutent pas, 
Et n'ont qu'a vivre heureux pour n'etre point in- 

is no doubt that a man must be an Augier 
to draw such lines from such a meeting ; a great 
many dramatists might have come that way on that 
morning, and their fifth act would still have been in 
limbo, but to Kmile Augier the Pont des Arts has 
really been the short cut to the Acack nnV -I-Van^aise. 

Well, it was by a similar accident, by a k-tt 
found unexpectedly, by a story with which I had 

The question of Henri IV to the Spanish ambassador, when the 
entered the room and found hi horses' with his 

60 .SV.r/r Years of Recollections 

been mixed up and which suddenly recurred to my 
mind, that I was inspired. But the story is too 
striking, it has left too great a landmark in my life 
not to give it in full. 


I was in Rome in 1832. I was only twenty-five and 
became acquainted with a Frenchman, a little older 
than myself, but to whom I took a great liking on 
account of his energetic temperament and his original 
turn of mind. Tall, robust, somewhat full-blooded, 
with a black beard and very light blue eyes his 
appearance produced the usual strange effects of 
those contrasts. M. Auguste Leroux went shooting 
in the neighbourhood of Rome with . Horace Vernet, 
practised fencing with Constantin, the celebrated 
painter on porcelain, painted very nicely himself and 
brought back from his shooting expeditions as many 
pretty water colours as game, spent his money * like 
a lord ' and was absolutely weary of everything. He 
had a natural, hereditary tendency to spleen, which, 
it should be said, was fully justified by a terrible 
event that had befallen him in his youth. One morn- 
ing his father while sitting at breakfast with his son 
and his daughter, got up from the table without 
saying a word, and a few minutes afterwards the 
children heard the report of a pistol. As a matter 
of course they rushed out of the room, and at about a 
score of steps from the door found their father lying 

Sixty Years of Recollections 6 1 

dead. He had blown his brains out. The catastrophe 
cast a shadow on the young fellow's life ; he often 
said to me : ' I'll finish up like my father.' 

On our return from Italy our cordial intercourse 
soon changed into friendship. He introduced me to 
his sister, whom he worshipped, and whose children he 
positively idolised. Their father's tragic death had 
drawn the bond between them still closer. They had 
been drawn together by fear as well as affection. He 
had also introduced me to his dearest or rather to his 
then only friend, M. G. Delacour. M. Delacour, after 
having spent many years in the service of his country 
had retired with the rank of lieutenant-colonel. He 
had inherited a considerable fortune, and at the age 
of forty-five married a poor but marvellously good- 
looking young girl. I have never seen a more strik- 
ing contrast between man and wife. The husband 
simple to a degree, even somewhat stern, but one 
of those noble, kindly natures which shrink from 
ch, and are content to let their deeds speak for 
themselves. M. Delacour reminded me of some of 
those military characters of the first Republic, so 
frequently met with at that period. As for the wife, 
she was like a picture by Wutteau, tiny, plump, with 
rosy cheeks and saucy eyes, teeth that were so white 
as to be a smile in themselves, two ever-shifting 
dimples at the corners of the mouth, and such a 
throat, bu^t and arm hort, a delightful mix: 

of little fair\", little doll and Tar: 

62 .SV.r/r Years of Recollections 

The almost inevitable consequences of such a 
union may easily be guessed Mme. Delacour de- 
ceived her husband. He discovered her faithlessness 
and consulted his friend. * You have but one course 
open to you,' was the advice, ' to kill the lover and 
discard the wife.' ' The lover is gone.' ' The wife 
remains, turn her out of your house.' But M. Dela- 
cour happened to be madly in love, the wife wept, 
flung herself at his feet, promised amendment, the 
husband was willing to forgive, M. Leroux alone re- 
mained inflexible. ' If you pardon her to-day, she 
will recommence to-morrow. If I were you, I should 
put her away/ he said. 

Two or three days later, on leaving his friend's 
room, he found himself face to face in the adjacent 
room with the wife who had been watching for 
him. 'I would like to speak with you, monsieur,' 
she said. ' I am at your service, madame,' saying 
which he follows her into a small drawing-room, the 
door of which she closes behind her. Then she goes 
straight up to him, looks him full in the face and 
says : ' Why this merciless attitude against me, 
monsieur, what have I done to you ? ' ' What have 
you done to me/ he replies, quivering with suppressed 
anger, ' why, all the harm you have done to him, you 
have done to me. Why my merciless attitude? 
Because I hate and despise you, because I look upon 
you as the most wretched creature on earth for having 
deceived a man who dragged you out of your poverty, 

Sixty Years of Recollections 63 

almost saved you from starvation, and who cherished 
you as a brother, a father and a lover at the same 
time, who is one of the noblest hearted men I know, 
who has all the delicate feelings of a woman added 
to all the energies of a man ; I hate you for having 
virtually plunged the dagger into the breast of so 
kind a creature. It shows that you have neither 
heart nor feeling. It is out of pity and affection for 
him, from horror for you that I am bent upon your 
downfall. Good-bye, madame,' he says, leaving the 

Left to herself, crushed beneath the withering 
blast of his words, she felt all of a sudden springing 
up within her one of those terrible, instantaneous re- 
volts which remind one of one of those instances of 
' fate ' depicted by the Greek dramatists. She rose 
from her seat, reeled forward a few steps, and dropped 
another chair, exclaiming, * Great heavens, I love 
that man ! ' Nothing could have been more true. 
She loved that man, she loved him for his hatred and 
contempt of her, she loved him for his having told 

<>f both. His indignant denunciation of her in- 
gratitude had shed a halo around him ; she looked 
upon him as a being of a superior order ; henceforth 

had but one thought, one wish, to confess even - 
him ; to fling herself at his feet, imploring 
him to kill her, uhi" iming : 'Strike, stri : 

hand that shall deal the blow.' A 
enabled to carry on: 

64 Si.r/j' Yt'iirs oj Recollections 

plan. Finally, one morning when he called upon her 
husband, she confronted him and without the slightest 
preamble, without a moment's hesitation, in a terrible 
burst of sobs, headlong passion, horror of herself and 
adoration of him, this tiny creature, whom Fragonard 
might have chosen for a model, expressed her love in 
passionate accents, the like of which for pathos 
Alfred de Musset never found under his pen. From 
her he came straight to my house. I was out and he 
left word that he would call next morning. When 
he entered the room he looked so pale, so utterly un- 
done that I could not help remarking upon it. He 
told me what had happened. His story positively 
terrified me, I beheld 'as in a glass darkly ' such a 
horrible future in store for him that I cried out : ' Go, 
go to America, to Africa, the farther the better. Go 
away, friend, or you are lost. The conflagration is 
gaining upon you, you are under the impression that 
you are merely disarmed, that you are moved with 
pity, it is nothing of the kind ; you are in love.' ' I,' 
he exclaimed, starting from his chair in sheer be- 
wilderment ; ' I, but that would be too abominable 
to contemplate. After all I have said, after all I have 
done, after all I feel for him. No, no, it is impossible, 
it would be worse than a crime.' ' You never spoke 
a truer word. And it is exactly on that account that 
you are struck to the very heart. You are greatly 
mistaken if you think that human nature is invariably 
beautiful and noble. If you doubt my word go and 

s of Recollect 65 

ask half-a-dozen priests, priests whose duty takes 
them to the confessional. You are in love, just as 
much as she is, perhaps more than she is. Take 
my advice and go away.' 

This was at the beginning of June and next day I 
went with my family to Dieppe. I had had no 
news for a week, when, on my return from bathing 
one morning, I found Leroux at our lodgings. ' You 
here,' I said, horrified at the change a week had 
wrought in his looks. ' XYhat has happened ? ' ' You 
told me to go away,' he answered in a painful tone, 
4 well, I have come to take refuge with you ; give me 
shelter. The sight of your wife and child, of your 
domestic peace and happiness will allay my excite- 
ment. Thank God, I have as yet nothing to re- 
proach myself with. I have not said a word to her. 
I have come to seek near you the strength to remain 
nt for ever.' 

He stayed for a fortnight and I shall never forget 
our excursions to the forest of Arques. My wife, he 
and I got on to our horses after breakfast and for 
hours together rode through the wild and soli 
country, amidst the magnificent giant-beeches along 
the crest of the rocks overlooking the rustic valley 

l>y the Sorgues. His head almost toucl 
his 1 Mane, he scarcely CVCT uttered a word. 

as so painful as to become contagion 

us down. We our tant to 

ioved as re by this sombre image of 

V!.. II 

66 Sixty Years of Recollections 

despair and by the expectation of some tragic and 
mysterious catastrophe. 

A letter he received while he was with us affected 
him intensely. His sister occupied the ground Boor 
of a small house, standing in its own gardens in the 
Temple quarter. One day she wrote to her brother 
that a charming young woman had called on her and 
proposed to take the first floor, that in the course of 
the negotiations she had become acquainted with the 
children both of whom she had smothered with kisses, 
' having evidently taken an affectionate liking to them. 
She has even made them some trifling presents,' added 
the sister, ' and they were offered in such a sweet and 
delicate way that it was impossible to refuse them. 
Her emotion gives me the impression of being 
prompted by some recollection.' 

The young woman was none other than the un- 
happy Mme. Delacour, who being frantic with grief at 
the departure of the man she worshipped, had taken 
to prowling around the house in order to catch a 
glimpse of the two children as they went in and out, 
in order to get to speak to them and to inspire them 
with a liking for her. All this was done with the hope 
that he would come to hear of it from his sister and 
that his heart would be touched. 

We left Dieppe together, he to return to Paris, we 
to return to our modest country house. A month 
later, I learnt from his own lips that all I had fore- 
seen, had come to pass. They had met one another 

Si.vty Years of Recollections 67 

face to face once more, their mad passion had been 
too much for them, the husband had become cogni- 
sant of the affair and as the result of a scene between 
the two men, Leroux had offered him the satisfaction 
due under such circumstances. ' I'll not fight you,' 
the husband had chillingly replied, 'it would afford 
you too much gratification. Twenty years of service 
devoted to my country give me the right to choose 
my own mode of vengeance. I leave you to one 

The punishment came ere long. Leroux, bent 
upon giving the young woman the life of luxury she 
had grown used to since her marriage flung himself 
headlong into speculations which seriously impaired 
his fortune. They were compelled to retire to that 
country house near Compiegne where his father had 
killed himself. For two months he left me without 


Getting very anxious, I wrote to him telling him 
among other things of a comedy which I was project- 
tor the ensuing winter. I transcribe his reply 
ually : ' So my secretive friend is finishing a 
comedy of which until now he had never broach r 

1 to me. To punish him I ought to have gone 
to the first ni^ht with a whistle, but honestly I could 
not very well be present at that pivmuiv. 

'///^ to kill myself togetlur with 
\ you could see me, you would not 
know me, for my ha: now. On a 

68 S/.rtr Years of Recollections 

plausible pretext I have managed to stow away in a 
small pavilion at the end of the garden about thirty 
fagots of wood and several bottles of turpentine. At 
eleven o'clock to-morrow night, we'll walk into that 
pavilion, she and I, with our minds made up to die 
and agreed as to the necessity of doing so. I'll pour 
the turpentine on the fagots and set light to them, 
after which I'll blow her brains out with a pistol and 
do the same thing for myself. Goodbye, may you be 
happy in this world, I am going to find out whether 
there is another.' 

What had happened during the time I had had 
no tidings from him ? What had been the terrible 
phases of that tragic passion ? Why had his hair 
grown white, and why did he call her his execu- 
tioner? More than bewildered myself, I went post 
haste to Compiegne : everything was over. I gathered 
from the servants and neighbours a few particulars of 
their last days, which after a lapse of more than 
half-a-century, I cannot write down without my pen 
trembling between my fingers. 

M. Leroux had made up his mind to put an end 
to everything by committing suicide. In order to 
have his hands free he told her to go to Paris to 
make some purchases, but she suspected his inten- 
tions, and vowed that henceforth she would not stir 
from his side for a single moment, being determined 

to die with him. 

M. Leroux being very fond of shooting was neces- 

; Years of Recollections 69 

sarily a great walker ; she on the contrary was very 
delicate and tiny, and like the majority of women 
born and bred in Paris, unable to stand the fatigue 

couple of hours' walk. One morning, soon after 
daybreak, while he thought her still asleep, he started 
for the forest, his gun loaded with ball cartridge. 
Five minutes afterwards, at the bend of a path, he 
found her waiting for him. In a kind of frenzy, he 
started at a gallop across the woods ; she followed 
him, panting for breath, almost choking, lascerating 
her feet among the brambles, but keeping up witli 
him nevertheless, never losing sight of him. For 
full an hour they went on, at the end of which she 
stumbled, but still clinging to him and saying that 
she would not leave him, and that if he wanted to 
kill himself, he would have to kill her first. On that 
day they conceived their plan. Their last hours on 
earth must have been terrible. They sat down to 
breakfast at twelve and remained there opposite one 
another, gloomy and silent. When the servants came 
to lay the cloth for dinner, the breakfast had not 
been touched. At nine o'clock, M. Leroux told 
them that the}- might retire for the night, and the 
unhappy couple were alone once more, with one 

iry candle between them. At eleven one of the 

.:iits heard someone stir in the dining-room, he 

jumped out of bed, opened his window and looked 

out. He saw the window which almost reached the 

.anlrn 1> nrd, and his master and 

7 o Sixty Years of Recollections 

mistress climb out of it. Then they went straight to 
the kennel of a big dog, unfastened him and took 
his chain. After which M. Leroux locked the front 
door and flung the key over the wall. In another 
moment, the couple went up the large avenue of 
lime trees leading to a small summer house. The 
servant caught a glimpse of them now and then 
through the gaps in the trees; as they crossed the 
paths, fitful patches of moonlight filtering through 
the branches gave them the appearance of a couple 
of spectres, or rather of a couple of convicts, for the 
dog's chain was fastened to the right wrist of the 
one and the left wrist of the other. At last they 
disappeared from his view altogether, and after listen- 
ing for a little while, and hearing no further sound the 
man went back to bed and fell asleep. An hour 
later, perhaps, he awoke with a start, the dog was 
barking violently and there was a crash of falling 
timbers, accompanied by the crackling of burning 
wood. The pavilion was on fire. He rushed down, 
the neighbours scaled the walls, and appeared upon 
the scene almost as soon as he, but too late, the 
place was simply ablaze. Among the ashes and 
charred posts was found part of the shoulder of the 
young woman and a wrist with the end of the iron 
chain round it. The rest of those two human beings, 
worthy of pity in spite of their error, had disappeared 
in the flames and with them the explanation of that 

Sixty Years of Recollections 7 1 

enigmatical and terrible phrase, 'To-morrow I am 
going to kill myself with my executioner.' 

Apparently we have drifted far away from my poor 
play ; apparently only, for we have just got back to 
it. The tragic story related above had recurred to 
me in all its details at the unexpected sight of 
Leroux's letter among some old papers. The story 
haunted me all day, and towards evening, by one 
of those phenomena of the imagination, though 
frequent enough with dramatic writers, the real 
drama got gradually mixed up in my mind with 
the fictitious one, the denouement of which was per- 

ntly eluding my grasp. One of the three per- 
sonages stood out from the other two and began to 
form a part of my group of actors. It was the 

mage of the colonel, whose answer : ' No, 
monsieur, I will not fight you,' struck me all at once 

he summary of a whole character, as the germ 
of a dramatic part, as the starting point of an 
altogether new situation from which two acts mi^lit 
be evolved. Brimful of my idea, I went post haste 
to Goubaux's, he was away from home, he was on 
duty as a national guard at the Ministry of Finances. 
To the Ministry of Finances I ran, Goubaux was on 

(I. I tell him of my find, which he thinks 

irable. ' In that case,' I say, ' let us set to work 
at once.' ' I can't, 1 he ivplics, ' I have to keep the 

72 Si.vty Years of Recollections 

dogs away, and challenge the people who want to 
go in.' 'What does that matter, it will be all the 
more amusing.' And forthwith we set to planning 
our act, he striding up and down, his rifle on his 
shoulder, I running by his side on the pavement, 
our conversation interrupted every now and then by 
the ' No admittance here/ of the sentry. 

By the time they came to relieve him, our plan had 
taken shape, and two months after that our piece was 
finished. In another two months we read it at 
the Comedie-Frangaise, where it was unanimously 
and enthusiastically accepted. Mdlle. Mars under- 
took the principal part and on the 6th June 1838 
I had the satisfaction of reading on the playbills: 
' To-night for the first time, " Louise de Lignerolles," 
a drama in five acts, and in prose.' My heart beat 
very fast when I read that title on the walls, not 
so fast, though, as when I read that of ' Le Soleil 

The predictions with regard to 'Louise de Ligne- 
rolles' were more favourable. I had gathered two 
very valuable ones the night before at the dress 
rehearsal ; the first from Casimir Delvaigne. * It is 
very brutal, but striking ; it will succeed,' he said, when 
the rehearsal was over. My second prophet was 
an old actor who played the minor comic parts. His 
name was Faure. In his young days, he had given 
proof of great courage. It was at Nantes in 1794, at 
the time when Carrier had the people drowned in 

.V/ltv s of Recollections 73 

batches in the Loire. Entering the Hotel-de-Ville 
one day, he caught sight of the bust of that fiend, and 
snatching it from its plinth, he flung it to the ground 
where it was shattered to pieces. ' That's what ought 
to be done to the wretch himself,' he shouted. He 
wa> advised to leave the town as quickly as he could ; 
and he came back to Paris, where he resumed his 
very modest position at the Comedie-Francaise. 
1 Monsieur/ he said after the dress rehearsal of our 
drama, 'you may make your mind easy. Your 
success is assured ; all the petticoats will come and 
see your piece, and wherever the petticoats go the 
breeches invariably follow.' 

Both predictions were realised to the letter. At 
midnight on the 6th June '38 the names of Prosper 
Goubaux and Ernest Legouve, ' the authors of the 
drama we have just had the honour of performing 
before you,' to quote Firmin's own words were 
greeted with unanimous applause. I had taken my 
nge for the failure of ' Le Soleil Couchant ' and 
could claim the title of dramatic author. 


The four Principal Interpreters of 'Louise de Lignerolles ' ; Mdlle. 
Mars, Firmin, and Geffroy Joanny. The combined Ages of the 
two Lovers. Firmin. Firmin compared to his Successor ; De- 
launay. Firrnin's Appearance and Gait. His Style as compared 
to that of Delaunay. The Byplay in Love. Avowals Then and 
Now. No more Kneeling at the beloved Woman's feet. Firmin's 
Want of Memory. His Devices to minimise the evil effects of it. 
His last Years and Death. Joanny. His Peculiarities. His 
Punctuality. Expects the same from his Fellow- Actors. 'I have 
a Chicken for Dinner which cannot wait, etc.' His Ante-Theatrical 
Career. His magnificent Style. His Politeness. Geffroy. M. 
Legouve selects him to play a part in his Piece in preference to 
his older and more experienced fellow-actors. He becomes 
Famous in one evening. Mdlle. Mars. 'Was she Pretty?' 
' Am I Pretty ? ' Beauty On and Off the Stage. Refuses to play 
any but Young Girl's Parts. Her Reasons. Her Artistic Merits. 
Her Love Affairs. An Anecdote of her Early Life. Mdlle. 
Contat and the Black Thread. The Use of Slang on the con- 
temporary stage. Sardou's first Attempt to introduce it. Mdlle. 
Mars as a Dramatic Adviser. The Success of ' Louise de Ligne- 
rolles.' Mdlle. Mars afraid of Mdlle. Rachel. Her reluctance to 
tell her Age. Her last Years. Her Deathbed. Exit. ' The 
Ruling Passion strong in Death.' 


WHEN the curtain rose for the first time on ' Louise 
de Lignerolles/ the two lovers of the play counted a 
hundred and twenty-five years of existence between 
them. Yet, I may safely say, that I have never had 

Years of Recollections 75 

t\vo such young interpreters, if by youth we under- 
stand spirited, passionate and heartfelt acting. 

There is a vast difference between the Comedie- 
Frangaise of 1838 and that of 1887 and all the ad- 
vantages are certainly not on the side of the contem- 
porary organisation. At present, even in comedy, 
the scenery and dresses are more carefully looked to, 
the animation of a drawing-room, the movement of 
the minor characters is better, there is greater anxiety 
to catch the true accent of every day life, but what 
has become of the diction, the elegant manners, the 
refined language, and the hundred and one things 
which made the Comedie-Francaise the faithful 
image of French society as it existed in years gone 
by. I will endeavour to signalise some of those 
differences by showing four of the great artists at 
work : namely, Mdlle. Mars, Firmin, Geffroy and 

t us start with Firmin, whom I cannot portray 

r than by comparing him to our dearly missed 

Delaunay. They had many qualities in common, 

and first of all the look, or it would be better, perhaps, 

to term it the glance. On the stage we must not 

confound the look with the eyes. One may have 

ionks with very small eyes, and per 

>*, one may have very large eyes and still be 

utterly lacking in that flash of light which springs 

from the pupil, spreads in one moment throughout 

tin house and as it illumines it. Both had 

76 StA-ti' Years of Recollections 

dazzling white teeth, which seemed to sparkle like 
the eyes, and to smile like the lips. Shorter than 
Delaunay and without so shapely a figure, less 
elegant in its movements, Firmin, with his head 
slightly ' stuck ' forward, his body swaying more or 
less on his legs, and beating his palms nervously 
against one another, had not the charming grace of 
Perdican, but the impassioned fire of his acting, the 
electrical effect of his voice made up for it all. To 
find a fit comparison to him we must go back to the 
great tenors such as Rubini and David, who not 
only touched one's soul, but made every nerve in 
one's body quiver like the strings of a harp. Im- 
passioned as was Delaunay, Firmin had something 
more of ' the devil in him,' and was with it all as 
light as a bird. There are some lines from ' Le Mis- 
anthrope ' in which piece I heard them both, in which 
both delighted me, and in which I was enabled to 
appreciate the similarity of and the difference be- 
tween their respective talents. They are the lines of 
the Marquis (Acaste) at the beginning of the third 
act. In order to explain my idea, I had better quote 
the verses. 

' Parbleu ! Je ne vois pas lorsque je m'examine, 
Oil prendre aucun sujet d'avoir I'ame chagrine, 
J'ai du bien, je suis jeune. et sors d'une maison 
Qui peut se dire noble avec quelque raison ; 
Et je crois par le rang que me donne ma race, 
Qu'il est fort peu d'emplois dont je ne sois en passe. 
Pour le creur, dont surtout nous devons faire cas, 
On sait, sans vanite, que je n'en manque pas ; 
Et 1'on m'a vu pousser, dans le monde, une affaire 

AY.r/r Years of Recollections 77 

D'une assez vigoureuse et gaillarde maniere. 

Pour de 1 esprit, j'en ai, sans doute, et du bon gout, 

A juger sans etude et raisonner de tout ; 

lire aux nouveautes, dont je suis idolatre, 
Figure de savant sur les banes du theatre, 
Y decider en chef, et faire du ft 
A tous les beaux endroits qui meritent de- 
Je suis assez adroit ; j'ai bon air, bonne mine, 
Les dents belles surtout, et la taille fort fine, 
Quand a se mettre bien, je crois, sans me flatter, 

n serait mal venu de me le disputer. 
Je me vois dans 1'estime autant qu'on y puisse Stre. ; 
Fort aime du beau sexe, et bien aupres du maitre ; 
Je crois qu'avec cela, mon cher marquis, jc 
Qu'on peut, par tout pays, etre content de soi.' 

This charming piece, on Delaunay's lips, sparkled 
like a lark's mirror in the sun.* So many lines, so many 
facets. The faintest intention, the vaguest hint, the 
most delicate nuance of the author's meaning was 
elucidated and put into proper relief. Firmin, on the 
other hand, laid stress upon nothing, did not stop 
to accentuate or emphasise, but carried the whole in 
a single movement which was like a flutter of wings, 
like the buz/ing flight of a swarm of bees. 

Firmin had made himself famous by the manner 

in which he told a woman of his love. No one 

could fling himself at the feet of a woman with as 

much passion as he. Nowadays, men no longer fling 

themselves at a woman's feet 1 believe I was the 

Iramatic author who was bold enough to intro- 

that bit of pantomime in a comedy. Bressant, 

I- author uses 
with u ;ire caught. I have seen them used in I 

they are employed in Eng, seen them 

78 Si.r/i' } 't'tirs of Recollections 

when telling Mme. Madeleine Brohan of his love in 
' Par droit de conquete,' gracefully knelt before her, 
and at the same time electrified the audience by his 
passionate pleading. When a few years later, M. 
Febvre assumed the part he told me that he could 
not possibly follow Bressant's example, that he did 
not know how to set about that kind of thing, that he 
would simply feel ridiculous and he was right The 
taste 'for that kind of thing' had changed. To throw 
one's self at a woman's feet, to kiss her hand, to pay 
her a compliment, all ' that kind of thing ' dated from 
a period when love was accompanied by respect, when 
a certain show of gallantry was an essential element 
in the act of 'paying one's court.' I defy any man, in 
our own days, to make ' a declaration of love ' on the 
stage, as we understood it then. The public would 
split its sides with laughter, and the young woman or 
girl to whom it was addressed would follow suit, 
if she did not take the initiative. In order to convince 
her of your affection, you must provoke her more or 
less, I had almost said treat her more or less cava- 
lierly. If one had proposed such a scene to Firmin 
he would have said like M. Febvre : ' / do not know 
how to set about that kind of tiling? 

It seems scarcely credible but this very brilliant 
actor had no memory, When enacting a long scene 
at the far end of the stage, he was obliged to have a 
second prompter somewhere within earshot. He 
invented the strangest devices in order to refresh his 

} 'ears of Recollections 79 

memory. Sometimes he would select this or that 
armchair, at others, part of the design of the carpet, 
then again this or that lamp to help him out with a 
hemistich or a line which was sure to escape him at 
the moment he wanted it How did he manage to 
suit his spirited, his impressive style to those fright- 
ful lapses of memory ? How ? Simply by making 
those lapses contribute to those bursts of passion. 
Like Mol, whose memory was as defective as his, 
he drew from his struggle with the text indescribable 
effects ; he appeared to be dragging his words from 
his very entrails, his stammering and stuttering 
simply became so much quivering, headlong passion. 
His impetuosity was, after all, so thoroughly natural 
that during the run of * Hernani ' the slightest whisper 

ist the piece sufficed to call it forth. Though 
thoroughly worn out with the duties of this crushing 
he would start to his feet and overwhelm the 
hostile critic with the most striking passages from his 
rdle, rendered, if possible, with additional fire and 
spirit. Odd to relate, this excitable, highly strung 

are spent his old age like a philosopher and 
ended up like a stoic. Having retired from the st 
he lived for many years in a small country cottage on 
the banks of the Seine near Coudray, by hin 
smiling and contented, spending his days in reading 
Plutarch. 'When my friVmls come to see me I am 

:ite<l. When they stay away I manage todowith- 

:hem, lie said. When deep in fc] 

8o .S7.r/r Years of Recollect io)is 

felt that his sight began to fail him, he could read no 
longer, his legs refused to carry him and a profound 
but mute melancholy took possession of his soul and 
showed itself in his features, and one day without 
having ever uttered a word of complaint, he painfully 
and slowly got on to the window sill in his drawing- 
room, which was situated on the first floor and flung 
himself head foremost on to the pavement below, 
just as quietly, in fact, as a follower of Zeno would 
have plunged a dagger into his breast. 

Joanny, who like Firmin, contributed greatly to the 
success of ' Louise de Lignerolles/ was a singular 
artist in more senses than one. To begin with, he al- 
ways knew the whole of his part at the first rehearsal 
of no matter what new work. He brought his manu- 
script in his pocket to mark the corrections and 
alterations, but from the very first day the whole of 
the text was indelibly stamped on his memory. 

A vast difference assuredly between this principle of 
being * letter perfect' from the very beginning, and the 
theory of some great actors of to-day who pretend that 
a part should be learned on the stage during rehearsal, 
and during rehearsal only. Who is right? He, or 
they ? Perhaps both : it is simply a question of 
school and period. Formerly when diction was con- 
sidered the first and foremost thing, Joanny's method 
was the better. To-day the dialogue is as it were 
mixed up with the gestures, the position of the actor 
on the stage thoroughly modifies the accent of the 

'ears of Recollections 8 1 

phrases, actors do not only play a part, they ' walk it,' 
I was tempted to say ' run it. 1 In Sardou's ' Bour- 
geois de Pontarcy ' (' Duty ' in the English version), I 
have heard and seen Mdlle. Bartet and M. Berton 
exchange the most tender and purest protestations of 
love, walking all the while round the furniture. I feel 
bound to add that the whole of it was accomplished 
with infinite grace and charm. Admitting that kind 
of pantomime to be the right thing, the method of 
learning one's part while enacting it at rehearsal must 
be the better one, but when the characters in the play 
were animated without being agitated, Joanny's 
method was preferable. 

His second original trait was his punctuality. 

Having been a sailor in his early days, (he had lost 

fingers of his left hand in battle), he made his 

arance at rehearsal to the minute, just as he would 

done on the fo'c'sle or quarter-deck of his ship. 

But if he kept no one waiting for him, he equally 

declined to wait for any one. I remember perfectly 

well his pulling out his watch one day at a rehearsal 

of ' Louise de Lignerolles.' We were in the middle of 

but that did not affect him. ' One moment,' 

he said very quickly, ' it's five o'clock ; if we had 

begun at the right hour we should have finished long 

ago. My housekeeper has got me a chicken for my 

dinner, I won't let my housekeeper or the chicken 

-10 I wish you a pleasant afternoon.' I wonder 

what poor Joanny would say nowadays to the want 
VOL, u 

82 .SY.r/r }'<w;-.v of Rcco/lcctious 

of punctuality which has become one of the traditions 
of 'the House of Moliere,' where every watch is half- 
an-hour slow. The old hands still manage to be 
punctual, but the young ones, and especially the 
women, seem to take a pride in keeping people waiting. 
Who is to blame ? Not one in particular ; it is simply 
the prevailing spirit. The idea of submitting to 
discipline, of being bound by regulations has gone 
out of fashion. People no longer care to be part of a 
whole, there is no longer a milky way in the domain 
of art ; everybody wishes to be a star, and as such 
moves at his own sweet will, rotates by himself, or if 
anything makes others revolve around him. I have 
got an idea that this system is no more suitable on 
the earth than it would be in the skies. 

Finally, Joanny had a third peculiarity, he lisped. 
Of all the drawbacks to good diction, lisping is un- 
doubtedly the one lending itself most to laughter. 
Well, this lisper, this methodical, systematical creature 
was one of the most heartstirring, original and poeti- 
cal artists I have known. Unfortunately for him, he 
was the contemporary of Talma. The proximity of 
men of genius is fatal to the man of talent. The 
former monopolise all the available glory of their 
time. The splendid light they shed reduces to a 
mere flicker everything that but for them would be 
considered brilliant Joanny, relegated to the Oddon 
for a long while, only entered the Com&die-Francjiise 
after the death of his illustrious rival, and suddenly 

.SV.r.; s of Recollections 83 

;;ned a foremost position. Who does not 
member his Tyrrel in ' Les Enfants d'Edouard,' his 
Coictier in 'Louis XI,' and above all, his Ruy 
Gomez in ' HernamV His magnificent white hair 
looked like a halo. He disliked wigs. ' Wigs are 
made of dead hair,' he said, ' only the hair growing on 
our heads and nourished with our blood can associ- 
ate itself with the play of our features. -It enacts 
our parts as we enact them.' 

A the father of Louise de Lignerolles, he aroused 
the enthusiasm of Mdlle. Mars to such a degree that 
one day while rehearsing the fifth act, she said to me, 
* Do you hear the old lion ? ' The praise was the 
more gratifying to me inasmuch as I had, to a certain 
extent, contributed to that magnificent roar. During 
the first rehearsals I had not been particularly pleased 
with Joanny in that scene. I considered that he did 
lisplay all tl ;y required by the situation. 

Hut how was I to tell him so? I was but thirty and 
he had white hair. I had not the courage. Then 

myself of going to him after the 
ind while pretending to be enraptured with 
of the SGene, to repeat the whole of it, 
i lit\ as I wanted it 
1 very attentively, looked at 
:ig a word and 

at r. b llcony, When Joanny 

to th.v ..ictly c\ 

tonation turning to me and l> 

84 Si.rSr Years of Recollections 

ing with infinite grace, he said, * Will that do, M. 
1'auteur ? ' 

I should indeed be wanting in gratitude if I did 
not say a few words about M. Geffroy, before speak- 
ing of Mdlle. Mars. To begin with, I have a weak- 
ness for his talent and for a very good reason ; I, as it 
were, guessed that it was in him before anyone else. 
The part of M. de Givry, the colonel who refuses to 
'go out' had met with enthusiastic approval at the 
reading of the play, they offered us ever so many 
societaires and tried artists to interpret it. ' No/ I 
repeated obstinately, ' I want the young fellow I saw 
in ' La Famille de Lusigny,' he alone is able to give 
with the necessary pluck the words of Colonel Givry 
when he appears upon the scene for the first time in 
the fourth act. 

As a matter of fact, the line involved a very, very 
great risk. The first words he had to say to Henri de 
Lignerolles were, * Monsieur, you are the lover of my 
wife.' Nowadays such a commencement would 
scarcely be considered very daring, but it was dif- 
ferent in 1838. I remember well enough the murmur 
of revolt that ran through the house. The pit rose 
as one man, or rather like a horse that gets on 
its hind legs. It was only what I expected. During 
the rehearsals, all the actors, Mdlle Mars included, 
had entreated me in vain to * cut the line.' ' You are 
compromising the piece.' ' I don't care,' was my 
answer. ' You are virtually invoking a perfect storm 

Si.vty Years of Recollections 85 

of hisses.' ' I don't care.' c But at any rate, do pre- 
pare your public for that exhibition of brutality.' 
'No, there's no time to do that. We are in the 
fourth act and \ve must define the colonel's character 
with one line. That line has an immense advantage, 
it is the character "boiled down" to one sentence. 
The whole of the part is contained in it. The public 
will probably hiss for the moment, but you'll see 
what they'll do afterwards.' 

My view turned out to be the correct one. I had 
instinctively established two rules, essential under 
such conditions. The first is that a daring thing 
should be done boldly. Precautions in such a case 
only tend to put the public on its guard, and show 
that the author is afraid of it. Now, it is a fact that 
a theatrical audience is simply like any other gather- 
ing of men, it is impossible to manage it except by 
showing a bold front. The only way to impose on 
it is by imposing on one's self. The second rule, 
which since then Scribe has loudly proclaimed, is that 
a theatrical effect is produced not by a blow but by 
the counter-bit >\\ . I n ' Louise de Lignerolles ' the blow 
had been very violent, but at the fourth line after it 
came the counter-blow which served, as it were, as a 
vaulting-plank by means of which to jump clean over 
the forin.-r. When M. de Givry brutally claimed 
his \\il\-, hidden in Henri de Lignerolles' rooms, the 
lover said, ' And if do you think I 

ild be coward enough to give her up? 1 'You 

86 Sixty Years of Recollections 

have been coward enough to corrupt her,' retorted 
the colonel. And this telling retort Goubaux's 
invention, not mine was the signal for deafening 
applause which continued throughout. The part 
was one prolonged, triumphant success of which M. 
Geffroy had his well-deserved share, for he showed 
himself in advance of his time by that careful attention 
to detail in the matter of dress, manner and bearing, 
which constituted one of his great talents. With his 
heavy moustache, closely cropped reddish hair, turn- 
ing grey and standing on end, his cavalry stride, his 
voice cutting through one like steel, his brief answers 
that reminded one of the crack of a whip, he posi- 
tively made one feel afraid. You should have seen 
him when Henri de Lignerolles said, * Monsieur de 
Givry, you are a coward.' Taking a long breath, he 
burst into a low sarcastic chuckle, and simply an- 
swered, * Do you think so ? ' At eight o'clock in the 
evening M. Geffroy was a ' mere hope/ at midnight 
he was an actor of acknowledged talent. 


' Was she . pretty ? ' That is generally the first 
question people ask you when you happen to speak 
of an artist of former days. Well, Mdlle. Mars was 
pretty, she was even charming. So charming, in fact, 
that Scribe in 'Valerie' dared to put on her own 
lips the words, 'Ami pretty ? ' She was close upon 
forty-five then, and the public replied to her by 

s of Recollections 87 

applauding to a man. That applause, I feel bound 
ty, was due to a certain extent to the spirit of 
the times. At present an author would scarcely 
care to risk such an experiment ; it would want the 
gallants of the pit of the early twenties to score a 
similar success. I will go further still and say that 
without the ' optical conditions ' of the playhouse, the 
experiment might not have succeeded then. There 
are what we call stage beauties. Mdlle. Mars, in 
spite of her handsome eyes and magnificent teeth, 
would not have passed muster, off the stage, as a 
good-looking woman. Her complexion was neither 
one thing nor the other, her nose was rather coarse, 
her head somewhat large, and her figure more or less 
short. But the stage is a magician with the power 
of transforming everything. If it be true that extra- 
refined features become somewhat indistinct, it is also 
true that too strongly marked traits become more or 
less toned down. The stage both magnifies and 
reduces ; it has the effect of harmonising things, and 
owing to the optical delusions prevailing on the stage, 
Mdlle. Mars remained for nearly fifty years the model 
irl and young woman behind the footlights. 
1 1< i successes were scored in young girls' parts. 

She continued to play Agnes (in Moliere's ' Iicole des 
') when she was over forty. Scribe thought 
IKT ' a wonderful turn ' by writing for her 
tile part of ayounggirl who having entered the convent 
at si- id being compelled to leave it a| forty, 

88 Sixty Years of Recollections 

during the Reign of Terror, had to face the world 
with all the innocent, candid, unsophisticated inex- 
perienced ways of the * bread and butter miss ' thick 
upon her, with the soul of a child, and the body of 
a matured woman. The conception was very ingenu- 
ous, the part absolutely charming. 

1 I'll have none of it,' exclaimed Mdlle. Mars, ' I'll 
have none of it I should be downright horrid in it. 
Your two score years would affect my face, my 
movements, my diction. Pray, do not make a 
mistake, I am not refusing the part from womanly 
vanity, but from sheer^ artistic conscientiousness. I 
can only be myself on the stage when I feel that I am 
young, when I am supposed to be young, when I 
know myself to be young.' 

She refused for the same reason and more cate- 
gorically still, another three-act piece by Scribe, 
entitled ' La Grand'mere,' in which in spite of her 
white hairs, she won a young fellow away from a 
young woman in order to restore his affections to 
her grand-daughter. ' Don't talk to me of your sex- 
agenarian lady. To begin with, if I succeeded in 
winning the heart of that young fellow, I would not 
give it up to any one. Furthermore, take it for 
granted that in the guise of a grandmother, I should 
look like a great-grandmother.' She was right. She 
was no more fit to play the part of a grandmother 
than a tenor is fit to sing a bass part. 

Unfortunately, the poor woman was not content to 

Sixty Years of Recollections 89 

enact the young woman merely on the stage. How 
often have I seen her come to the rehearsals of 
'Louise de Lignerolles, 1 nervous, irritable, her eyes 
red with weeping. What was the reason? That she 
probably just had had a violent altercation or explana- 
tion with one of the most elegant young fellows in 
Parisian society who held her bound to him by the 
ties of a mutual affection . . . but which, alas, was 
not shared to an equal degree. Well, nothing 
could make her give him up, neither his frequent 
faithlessness nor the humiliations to which she was 
often exposed by her frantic passion. It was she 
who was told by a physician to whom she had taken 
him and who noticed her agony, to set her mind at 
because there was nothing serious the matter with 
Jicr son.' There is no occasion to laugh or to throw 
stones at her, for all we know the talent and the 
i in her case may have been set ablaze by the 
self-same spark. Who knows whether the one would 
have preserved its youthful elasticity and spirit without 
the prolonged youth of the other ? We ought not to 
judge those strange beings we call great artists by 
the common standard. They are of different ages at 
the same time ; they are adults when they have 
scarcely emerged from childhood ; they are mere 
children when ' they have reached the borderland 
of old ,-i^e.' In that very drama of 'Louise de 

d the mother of a little 
girl of ci constantly chidi hild for 

9O Si.vty Years of Recollections 

remaining by her side when there was no necessity. 
1 What are you doing here, hanging on to my skirts. 
That's not like a little girl of your age. When you 
have given me my " reply," you should be romping 
and playing at skipping rope or at battledore and 
shuttlecock.' She virtually taught the child how to 
enact the child. 

Mdlle. Mars' acting was marked by three eminent 
qualities. To begin with, she had that rarest of all 
gifts, the talent of ' composing ' a part. There is 
nothing so difficult both to the actor and author as 
to create a character that shall hold together, that is, 
whose moods, however varying, shall accord so well 
as a whole as to breed the conviction in the minds of 
the public that they are looking at and listening to a 
real living being. Mdlle. Mars excelled in that pro- 
found art of extracting the harmonious whole of a 
part from its very contrasting elements themselves. 

Her second gift was a marvellous surety of execu- 
tion. I had a striking proof of it one day. We had 
to rehearse the most dramatic act of the piece. When 
she arrived, she looked tired, unnerved, there was not 
' a bright note in her voice.' Well, she rehearsed 
every line in that subdued voice without missing a 
word, without missing an effect, merely whispering 
what under different circumstances she would have 
said aloud, and making up for the deficiency in sound 
by emphasis, and for the shortcomings of the vocal 
organ by articulation. I was simply amazed. I 

Years of Recollections 91 

seemed to be looking at one of those drawings of 
Raphael or Leonardo da Vinci in which, without the 
aid of brush, colour or effects of light and shade, the 
:er has rendered the expression, the form, and 
intention with a mere pencil point. 

Finally, her third gift was one which is scarcely con- 
sidered worth having nowadays, namely, the gift of 
taste. Taste, I think, may be defined as being synony- 
mous with the control of one's own strength, with the 
careful avoidance of exaggeration in the portrayal of 
ion, with restraint even in the matter of graceful- 
Some very great artists have been utterly 
devoid of taste. Shakespeare knows nothing about 
; Rubens has no taste, and let us thank heaven 
for it, because taste pares, attenuates, and tones down 
things, and the very extravagance of these powerful 
geniuses constitutes part of their grandeur, albeit that 
taste displayed by Sophocles, Virgil, Mozart, 
Raphael, Racine, and La Fontaine likewise constitutes 
one of the elements of genius. Mdlle. Mars' : 
showed itself in the delightful sympathy between her 
voice, physiognomy and gestures. Truly, we should 
:nber that her tutrix had been Mdlle. Contat, the 
i i)f the domain of elegance. 

In the beginning of her Mdlle. Mars iiM-d her 

trm too freely, which habit amused tin- indi . 

f Mdlle. Contat. 'The left arm is at best but an 

awkward in^tnin 1, 'and it should only be 

used under nal < ir i ou'il 

92 Si.vfy Years of Recollections 

find that I'll break yours in. You'll be playing ' Le 
Dissipateur ' to-morrow, and in the scene of the fourth 
act, with which I have no fault -to find, that wretched 
arm of yours saws the air like the sail of a windmill. 
I am going to tie a black string to your 'paw,' and post 
myself at the wing where you play your scene. The 
moment you attempt to move your arm, I'll 

The scene commences, and at the second line Mdlle. 
Mars' arm goes up, or rather tries to do so, for there 
is a pull at the string and the attempt at revolt is 
nipped in the bud. The scene becomes animated, the 
young actress catches the spirit of it, and at a sing- 
ularly pathetic line the poor arm gets fidgety, and 
attempts to free itself a second time, but with the 
same result. The scene becomes still more touching 
and goes on increasing in pathos, the poor arm wants 
to emphasise the pathos, but is pulled back for the 
third time. It naturally protests against its bondage, 
the string protests on its side, until at last Mdlle. Mars 
carried away by her growing excitement, lifts both 
hands so impetuously that the string snaps in twain 
and the arm is free to do as it likes, and improves 
the occasion. When the scene is over, Mdlle. Mars 
makes her exit with a contrite mien and not daring to 
look Mdlle. Contat in the face. But the latter goes up 
to her, and taking hold of her hand says, * Bravo ! 
this is a better lesson than any I could give you. 
Henceforth, remember that the left arm should not be 

ty Years of Recollections 93 

lifted unless you can break the string by the force of 
your natural emotion.' 

To-day, when the youngest and prettiest actresses 
seek their success by means of vulgar gestures, bodily 
contortions and trivial intonation, Mdlle. Contat 
would scarcely find pupils. Formerly an actress, in 
order to please, was bound to have taste, to-day she 
must have ' spice.' How could it be otherwise, when 
young women in society, and in the best society, set 
the example. Fifteen years ago, (this was written in 
1886-87) Sardou made one of his young girls talk a 
few phrases of slang. There was a general cry of 
indignation. To-day the adjectives 'stunning,' 
1 side-splitting,' (c pat ant, tordant\ constitute part and 
parcel of the usual vocabulary of young girls. I 
may frankly confess that I cannot reconcile myself to 
this. When I hear them utter these words, they 
sound to me like oaths. Mdlle. Mars would probably 
have considered them blasphemy. 

Mdlle. Mars had another sterling and rare quality, 

which I, above all men, ought not to forget. She 

an excellent counsellor. In the third act of our 

drama Louise interrupted her husband's meeting with 

liis mistress. We had represented the husband as be- 

^sed, grieved, and more or less repentant. 

'This is simply absurd, 1 exclaimed Mdlle. M, 
'he ought to get into a He has d<>nc \vrong, 

consequently he ought to accuse, to ill-treat ni 
any peech for that's your character, gentle- 

94 .SY.r/r ) 't-tirs of Recollections 

men. Your vanity rules everything. A husband wh > 
is caught by his wife at a clandestine meeting is 
virtually in a ridiculous position, hence my husband 
must get in a towering passion. You need not mind 
me in the case, I'll come out all the stronger, and the 
scene of reconciliation will be all the more touching.' 

When in due course that scene came, Louise left 
alone with her husband, expressed her confidence in 
him for the future, saying, * I have no longer any fear, 
I am ignorant of everything ; I feel as if we had only 
been married yesterday.' When she got to these 
words she stopped short and in her somewhat brusque 
voice, her everyday voice, said, ' I'll not speak this 
line.' ' Why not, madame ? ' * Why not ? Because 
it is utterly useless in that situation.' ' Useless, use- 
less,' I repeated, rather nettled (I was only thirty and 
not very patient,) I think it very good.' ' You think 
it very good, " I feel as if we had only been married 
yesterday." ' ' Yes, madame, it expresses as it were 
the confidence which makes Louise go back to her 
first days of married happiness.' * Have as much 
married happiness as you like, but I refuse to say " as 
if we had only been married yesterday." Put some- 
thing else instead.' ' What am I to put ? ' * Put tra 
la, la, la, la, tra, la, la, la, la, tra, la, la, la, la ! ' 
' Great heavens/ I thought, ' she's gone out of her 
mind.' Thereupon I went away. 

While striding along and my anger gradually sub- 
siding, I began to reflect. ' What in the name of all 

Si.vfv Years of Recollections 95 

that's good did she mean ? Did those tra, la, la's 
divided into equal parts represent to her, may be, the 
rhythm, the harmony she stands in need of in these 
words in order to convey the joy and tenderness with 
which her soul is overflowing ? I had better think it 
over.' Thus said I to myself and next morning I 
came to the rehearsal with the following phrase in 
four parts. * Even-thing is forgotten ; I know nothing; 
our life only commences ; it's the first time you have 
told me, I love you.' 

The moment she heard the words, she exclaimed, 
'That's it, that's all I wanted.' 

tors often ask you in that way for things 
that are not very clear, and which nevertheless are 
none the less just. The reasons they advance are 
bad, but they are right for all that. Their critical in- 
stinct resembles a kind of semi-obscured second sight, 
which often gropes about, often proceeds in a zig-zag 
fashion, but which points out the straight road to the 

We rehearsed the piece sixty-eight times, and 

during that very long period of preparation, I learned 

many things, notably patience. Mdlle. Mars was not 

alw.i . . ith. Very satirical and 

gifted with a rare talent for mimicking people, she 

mcaturing the g- voice of 

/one who came in contact with her, and on one 

I need scarcely remind the reader that no possibiii 

rendering all this in English prose. TK. 

96 Si.vtj 1 Years of Recollections 

occasion she ^avc such a capital imitation of my jerky 
and nervous diction of those days that she managed 
to cure me of it for ever. The moment I feel in- 
clined to relapse into my old habit, I think of Mdlle. 
Mars and it has the desired effect. I may add that I 
have never met with anyone so zealous and conscien- 
tious, watching, as it were over every part, always 
listening to what was going on on the stage, whether 
she happened to be * on ' at the moment or not 
One morning we were standing chatting at the wings, 
she was telling me of her grievances against her 
director. She was furious, her face, her gestures, her 
voice, everything was ablaze. All at once her face 
changes, she is angry as ever in speech, but her look, 
her expression becomes milder, her invectives are 
uttered with a smile, so that at the last sentence 
though the language is still that of a fury, the face is 
that of an angel. What had occurred ? This much : 
while speaking she had carefully listened to the 
actors on the stage and become aware that her 
' entrance ' was nigh, and as she was to ' enter ' smil- 
ing and amiable, she had prepared for it amidst her 
anger and whilst talking, she had changed her features 
as she changed her dresses when changing her parts. 
On the first night of ' Louise de Lignerolles/ before 
the rise of the curtain, I noticed that she was rather 
more agitated than is generally the case with great 
artists on the evening of a battle ; for on such occa- 
sions they feel themselves in their element, like a 

Sixty Years of Recollections 97 

it captain amidst the roar of cannon. The 
moment she caught sight of me, she came up to me, 
saying, 'To-morrow you'll discover the credit I 
rved for acting as I shall act to-night, for I'll act 
very well.' Next morning, in fact, I learned that on 
coming back to her house at five in the afternoon on 
the day of the first performance, she found everything 
in the greatest disorder. The servants had just 
discovered that her diamonds worth sixty thousand 
francs, had been stolen. 

In spite of this, the performance from beginning to 
end was a veritable triumph for her ; the success of 
the piece itself was very considerable. At the 
twentieth performance, the 23rd August, the receipts 
rose to five thousand six hundred francs, an enormous 
re in those days. Mdlle. Mars went for her holi- 
days,* and was to make her re-appearance on the 
1st October. She did not come back at the stated 
>d, and only returned six months later ; she only 
her character of Louise de Lignerolles 
months after, and then only enacted it twice 
or thrice. What was the reason? It may be ex- 
plained in one word. Mdll< ! had made her 
>n the boards of the Comedie-Fran- 
in September. The brilliancy of this new 
in the theatrical firmament had 1 d her. She 
hid herself from i being eclipsed. She refused 

ic often employed by gret artists in France in starrin 
\.| || ( . 

98 .SV.r/r Years of Recollections 

to reappear except in an entirely new part, in order 
to oppose one triumph to another. 

The new part was that of Mdlle. de Belle-Isle 
(Alexandre Dumas' play of the same name). Since 
then every young and charming actress of the 
Come'die-Frangaise has ' attempted the part,' not one 
has ever succeeded in effacing the recollection of 
Mdlle. Mars or of proving herself her equal, and yet 
Mdlle. Mars was sixty-four years of age when she 
played it. 

Here is a rather curious fact, proving once more 
the importance she attached to that great question of 
her age. One day, a friend of mine, an ardent and 
old admirer of everything connected with the stage, 
entreated me to introduce him to Mdlle. Mars. 
This friend suffered from a peculiar defect ; he had an 
infallible memory. Everything in his mind was 
reduced to dates. If the recollection of his first love- 
appointment happened to well into his heart, he im- 
mediately added with a melancholy sigh, ' It was on 
the 1 3th September 1798.' While we were knocking 
at Mdlle. Mars' door I felt vaguely apprehensive of 
what might happen in consequence. * By-the-bye,' I 
said, * don't let us have any of your awkward recol- 
lections.' ' Don't worry yourself,' he replied, * I'll 
be careful.' The . door is opened and in another 
moment or so I present him to Mdlle. Mars as one 
of her most fervent admirers, to which introduction he 
adds immediately, ' Yes, madame, it is exactly forty 

y Years of Recollections 99 

s ago that I had the pleasure of applauding you 
for the first time.' In vain do I pinch his arm, he 
does not understand, and at the termination of the visit 
he asks the illustrious actress to be allowed to call again. 
The request is granted in the most charming manner. 
\ days later, however, my friend tells me very 
naYvely that he has called three times without seeing 
her. ' Each time on my name being taken in, I got 
the answer : ' Madame is not at home.' 

She retired in 1841 and died in 1847. I have two 
1 recollections ' of her at that period, one of which 

idly characteristic, the other very touching. 
One morning my wife was strolling in the Tuileries 
Gardens with her little daughter, who was then about 
s even, when all at once she nudged the child with her 
elbow, saying, ' Look.' Coming towards them was an 
old lady, wearing a ' false front ' of black hair, stoop- 
ing considerably, painfully dragging herself along 
and leading a small, yellow dog by a leash. The 
little animal evidently gave its mistress a good deal 
of trouble, but she bore patiently with it, stopping 
when it stopped, etc., etc. It was Mdlle. Mars, tak- 
'\er companion for an airing, the Araminte of 
yore waiting upon a little mongrel. 

One of Mdlle. MuiV friends was an old operatic 

: whom amateurs still remember, Mme. Dabadie 

imy of Rossini's '(iuillaume Tell.' 

Dabadie was very anxious about Mdlle. 

iritual condition. 'I'll think about it, I'll 

IOO Sixty Years of Recollections 

think about it ; but I must first of all see to that law- 
suit of mine pending at Versailles. When I shall 
have won that, you may bring me a confessor.' 
i I have got an admirable one,' replied the operatic 
artist, 'the Abb6 Gaillard, the curate of the Made- 
leine.' ' Very well, I'll write to you when I want 

A week later Mdlle. Mars is suddenly and danger- 
ously taken ill. ' Send me your curate at once,' she 
writes to Mme. Dabadie. The good priest went, it 
was he who gave me the particulars of the last days 
of her who was once Mdlle. Mars, and he never al- 
luded to her grace, charm and fascination without 
being thoroughly moved. That part of the penitent 
woman was Mdlle. Mars' final one, and she enacted 
it as she had enacted all the others, to perfection. 
The priest in speaking of her triumphant success of 
former days, said to her : * Where are all those 
beautiful wreaths, mademoiselle. ? ' c Truly nowhere, 
monsieur 1'abbe,' came the smiling answer, ' but you 
are preparing a much more lovely one for me, which 
will last for ever.' 

On the last days, with her mind wandering now 
and then and in the intervals of prayer, she suddenly 
interrupted herself and after a moment's pause, began 
to talk of ' Dorante,' of ' love ' and so forth. It was a 
passage from ' Les Fausses Confidences.' Then she 
stopped again as if listening to what she had said, 
and applauded. A touching and delightful picture, if 

Sixty Years of Recollections 101 

ever there was one. This mingling of the parts of 
the actress and spectator, that .voice listening to its 
own music, those hands applauding her own words, 
those alternate lines 'of the sacred text and of 
comedy couplets, assuredly, all this has a grace 
vying with that of her most delightful parts. Who 
had the last words! David with his psalms or Mari- 
vaux with his sprightly epigrams. I am inclined to 
think it was Marivaux. That which precedes the 
artist closest in death is art. 


Eugene Scribe. The beginning of my friendship with him. A Letter 
to him and his answer. Scribe's Birth and Parentage. His School- 
days and College Chums. His beginnings as a Dramatist. A 
strange Collaborates. A scene from 'She Stoops to Conquer' in 
real life. How Scribe became the owner of Sericourt. My success 
with ' Louise de Lignerolles.' A Piece on an Episode in the Life of 
General Lamarque. A qualified success. The balls of the Due de 
Nemours. Court Dress in the forties. Scribe wants to write a 
modern play for Rachel. I find the subject. Scribe at work. 
An Essay on Scribe as a Dramatist. Scribe as a Librettist. A pre- 
dicament of Dr Ve"ron. Scribe converts a dull tragedy into a 
sparkling comedy. Scribe's Stage Tricks. His Denouements. 
His reconstruction of two of Moliere's denouements. Scribe as a 
Stage-Manager. Scribe and Louis-Philippe. Scribe as a Friend 
and as a Man. Scribe and his Love-Affairs ' How happy could I 
be with either,' etc. A Last Love. His Death. 


MY friendship with Scribe, like that with Casimir 
Delavigne, began with the letter of a schoolboy to an 
illustrious playwright. I was at the top of the fifth * 
form and had my mind full of theatrical ideas. One 
day I fancied I had hit upon a subject for a comedy 
which seemed to me absolutely delightful. The end 
of the world was supposed to have been foretold, and 
the date mentioned in the prediction was accepted 

* Fifth form according to English scholastic rules. TK. 

Sixty Years of Recollections 103 

as a certainty. Of course the acceptance of the fiat 
produced a complete transformation in people's 
actions, language, positions, and sentiments. That 
sword of Damocles suspended over the whole of 
humanity caused the hitherto stifled, repressed and 
forcibly subdued passions to burst forth from the in- 
most recesses of men's hearts like so many volcanos. 
Like that clarion sound before Jericho, it was to 
over-topple all social castes and distinctions. There 
was an end to poverty and riches. There were 
neither great nor small. The impending end neces- 
sarily brought people face to face as equals and un- 
shackled, figuratively as well as literally. In short, if, 
as I intended, the first act was to treat of society in its 
old aspect, unimpaired, law-abiding, peaceful and 
using the powers conferred upon it in the usual way, 
the announcement of that sentence of death would, 
one may well imagine, produce a tremendous sensa- 
tion from a theatrical point of view. Enraptured with 
my plan, I wrote to Scribe, asking him to carry it out 
with me ; the plan to be a free gift. I signed with 
three- asterisks and added with the comical conceit 
of the youngster who is bent upon being modest : 
' I will be a discreet donor.' I was delighted with the 
donor.' I felt proud of it, the student in 
ric flattered himself upon having hit the grandi- 
loqui "--ssion. Since then I have l.m-hed more 

than once at the recollection of it. 

Scribe replied to M. * * * in a letter, full of kindli- 

IO4 Sixty Years of Recollections 

ness, heightened by a touch of sprightly irony. He 
instinctively guessed that he was dealing with some 
' young hopeful.' 

* Monsieur,' he wrote,' your subject is novel and 
interesting; unfortunately in order to command the 
slightest chance of success, there is one indispensable 
condition, namely, that the public itself on the first 
night should feel more or less convinced that the end 
of the world is drawing nigh. That is the obstacle. 
At the present moment the public is far from believing 
this, and it will be difficult to force that belief upon 
them. Fortunately, people are talking of a comet 
which is to appear next year, a comet which is ex- 
pected to shatter our globe like a simple wine-glass. 
Let us wait for the comet. Its coming may put the 
public in the humour to be terrified. If so, I will 
take advantage of it and write the piece, or rather we 
will take advantage of it, for I sincerely trust that 
that great event which will overtopple so many things 
will also rend the veil behind which my anonymous 
correspondent hides himself.' 

This letter, kindly withal, notwithstanding its tone 
of banter, filled me with delight. I kept the precious 
note like some treasure, still, I did not make myself 
known. I kept waiting for the comet and waited in 
vain, it frightened no one and left me with regard to 
M. Scribe in the position of M. * 

I little expected then that twenty years later I should 

Si.vty Years of Recollections 105 

become his collaborateur and friend, that I should be 
present at his most signal triumphs and have my 
share in some of these, and that finally, after a lapse 
of sixty years, I should take up the pen to save him 
from supercilious indifference and oblivion. I do not 
intend to write his 'apology,' I will neither recrimin- 
ate nor praise him inordinately, I will not attempt to 
hide the weak points of his talent. I will confine my- 
self to painting him such as I knew him for 
many years, at work, in his study, chatting, writing, 
initiating me in his method of working, and working 
with me and will leave aside his works, trusting to 
posterity to assign to them their proper place. 

The theory of environment is very much the 
fashion just now. It appears to me to contain a 
good deal of truth. The spot in which we happen 
to be born, the circumstances amid which we L;T< >\\ 
Kercise a powerful influence on our lives. Scribe 
is a striking instance of this. 

He came into the world on the i ith June 1791, in 

tin- Rue Saint-Denis, in a silk warehouse, kept by his 

;n of the ' Hlack Cat,' a stone's throw 

away from the (then) central market; consequently 

in the midst of a 1 (juarter, inhabited by a 

middle-cla^ moved from 

i the people, 

106 Sixty Years of Recollections 

not to say the ' populace.' His talent bears the stamp 
of his origin. 

A second point worthy of notice is the fact of his 
guardian having been a celebrated barrister to whom 
he went every Sunday. To this connection he pro- 
bably owed his understanding of business matters 
with which he has often been reproached, and which, 
after all, frequently proved an advantage in his 
pieces. There is a third important circumstance 
which we should not overlook ; he was educated at 
Sainte-Barbe. Thence sprang, no doubt, his tendency 
for keeping up college friendships, the traces of which 
are met with at every instant in his plays. There are 
at least a score of Scribe's pieces, the action of which 
begins with the accidental or prearranged meeting of 
two college chums who, on finding themselves together 
again after many years, feel a revival of all the hopes 
and affections of their youthful days, and their mutual 
confessions and recollections supply a kind of affec- 
tionate note to the sprightliness of the 'exposition.' 
Truly, his sojourn at Sainte-Barbe had given him 
' cronies ' eminently fit to stir within his heart the love 
for * Companions of yore.' Two of these were Germain 
and Casimir Delavigne. All three were called 'the 
inseparables.' Casimir and Germain went to their 
parents on the days they had leave, and Germain, 
through his connection with the manager of a small 
theatre, had tickets for the play. He went to it ever}- 
Sunday, and went, as it were, for the whole three. 

Years of Recollections 107 

On the Monday, at * play time,' there were endless 
discussions between him, his brother, and Scribe on 
the piece itself, on the acting of it, on the effect both 
had produced on the public, the whole interspersed, as 
a matter of course, with numberless projects for 
comedies or farces and aspirations to see their joint 
names on the playbills. Their beginnings were not 
brilliant. ' Do you know/ said Scribe one day to 
Janin and Rolle when all three were dining with me ; 
you know how I did begin ? I began with 
fourteen failures. Yes, with fourteen. But it served 
me right. My dear friends, you have no idea how 
flat and heavy those pieces were. Nevertheless/ he 
added with charming modesty, ' there is one I would 
fain rescue from the ignominy inflicted on it. It was 
hissed more than it deserved, for it was not as bad as 
an>- of the others. Really and truly, the verdict was 
unjust.' We could not help laughing. * Yes, you are 
laughing, and I too am laughing, but it was no 
ling matter to me in those days. After each 
failure, Germain and I strode the whole length of the 
Boulevards, desperate, furious, I repeating at e\ery 
moment : " What a beastly trade, but it's all over. I 
give it up. After the four or five plots we have in our 
desks, I'll write no more.'" five plots, 

what a pretty touch of natu: the rail 

very human passion under the sun. 'I'll have 
four iW8 i nor the ga:. 

that I'll play no more.' 'One la .-ll/ says the 

loS y Years of Recollections 

love-sick wight, ' and then I'll leave her for ever.' 
And the gambler keeps on gambling, and the love- 
sick wight does not leave the damsel ; and seeing 
that the dramatist is both a love-sick wight and a 
gambler, he tries over and over again. 

That was what Scribe did, and he acted wisely. 
But Scribe or no Scribe, a playwright at the outset of 
his career is bound to stumble and to make mistakes. 
He is ignorant of his own particular tendencies and 
he wants someone to point them out to him. In 
Scribe's case that 'someone' was one of the oddest 
characters I have known. Though he nominally 
figures on the list of French dramatic authors, he had 
scarcely any talent, he had not even what we call 
sparkle or wit. But the piercing eyes that flashed 
from behind his glasses, the bushy, mobile eyebrows, 
the sarcastic mouth, the long and inquisitive looking 
nose, all these stamped him as an observer, an in- 
quirer, a kind of sleuthhound. One day when dis- 
cussing the editor of a periodical whose enemies 
averred that his face was like that of a pig, Beranger 
wittily remarked, * A pig if you like, but he has the 
knack of finding truffles.' Well, Scribe's friend dug 
him out from beneath all his failures, and he con- 
ceived the strangest device to bring out what really 
1 in him was.' He constantly repeated to him : ' You 
will be all right. The day will come when you will 
show as much talent as Barr, Radet and Desfon- 
taines.' ' How absurd of you to exaggerate as you 

Si.vfy Years of Recollections 109 

do,' replied Scribe. * I am not exaggerating at all, 
only you want two things, perseverance in your work 
and solitude. I am going to take you away. I have 
got some friends a few miles distant from Paris. They 
have a very nice house in the country, that's where I 
am going to take you.' ' You are going to take me, 
you are going to take me ; what's the good of telling 
me you are going to take me ? Your friends do not 
know me, I do not know them.' ' I know them, and 
that's enough. We'll take up our quarters for four 
months with them, and in the autumn you'll come 
back to Paris with five or six charming pieces/ In 
another week our friends were comfortably settled in 
two rooms adjoining one another, Scribe under the 
careful surveillance of his gaoler who only allowed 
him to go down to his hosts after he had finished his 
day's work, when he was sure to find excellent fare 
and a cordial welcome. There was one thing, h< >\v- 

. which made Scribe feel uncomfortable, namely, 
his friend's occasional rudeness to his host. When 
the meat happened to be done too much, or the 

tables too salt, he simply exclaimed: 'This is 
horrible stuff", take it away, take it away.' Scribe, 
like most nice-minded people when compelled to sit 

by while their friends are making fools of themse' 
felt awkward and fidget ty. they feel as if they and 
not their friends were the offenders. Scribe bent his 
! OV hi> plate, ki< ked his friend under the table 
to make him hold his tongue, and when the dinner 

HO _SY.r/r Years of Recollections 

was ( >ver, remonstrated with him in the liveliest terms. 
' That's not the way to speak to one's hosts,' he said. 
* Don't trouble yourself about that, they like it,' was 
the answer. * They like it ! why you are behaving as 
if you were at an inn.' 

The fact was that they were at an inn, or at any 
rate in a boarding-house, a boarding-house where 
the friend paid for Scribe whom he housed, fed and 
provided for in a general way, in order to compel 
him to work, in order to force his genius to sprout 
forth. It would be difficult to find a more curious 
instance of admiration for talent. Only, for the sake 
of thorough accuracy, I ought to add that the friend 
was not wholly prompted by pure love of art. For, if 
he had as much as suggested the title of the piece, 
indicated its starting point or inspired a song, he as- 
sumed the part of collaborates, claimed the acknow- 
ledgment, shared the author's fees and the glory accru- 
ing from the work. He undoubtedly worshipped 
Scribe, but Scribe paid the budget of that worship. 

These curious details were told to me by Scribe at 
Sericourt while we were working at ' Adrienne 
Lecouvreur,' ' and/ added he laughing, ' there is this 
or that piece of mine to which the fellow put his 
name without having written a syllable of it. It was 
his due after all, for I'll never be able to repay him. 
He had the most wonderful knack of inciting me to 
work, of winding me up to the required pitch, of 
comforting me under disappointment. I am even 

5 of Recollections \ \ \ 

indebted to him for Sericourt. Yes, my dear fellow, 
the very room in which we are seated now, do you 
know what it is made out of? Out of the two small 
rooms in which I wrote by his side, and thanks to 
him, my first works.' 

1 Do you mean to say,' I asked, * that the boarding- 
house . . . .' 

ericourt is the former boarding-house. I became 
its owner by the strangest coincidence. I had just 
returned from Belgium with Melesville ; we were 
posting. When we got to La Fert-sous-Jouarre, 
we had to change horses. The postboys were evi- 
dently in no hurry, and while waiting I sat down on 
a milestone or something of the kind, and took out 
my pocket-book to jot down a scene which had 
struck me as we were driving along, Oh, I never 
ed my time. While I was considering for a 
moment or so, I happened to look up and noticed 
a bill, setting forth the conditions and particulars of 
the sale of Sericourt a r amiable* " SeVicourt," I say 
to myself all of a sudden, " surely I know that name. 
Monsieur," this to the in: landing in his door- 

way, " does not Sri court belong to two ladies of the 
name of D ? " " It does, monsieur. " " Do you 
think one would be allowed to go over the ]>r< 

* The bills of a sale in France always state whether the sale is a 
;.iry or compulsory one. In the one case the saU ice ted 


the hammer, even if all the par 
the less cxp less formal method. 

i i 2 Sixty Years of Recollections 

" I feel sure, for it is for sale." " How long would it 
take "to get there ? " " About three-quarters of an 
hour." " Upon my word, I should like to have a look 
at my old room," I exclaimed aloud, just as the post- 
boys and horses came jingling along. " Melesville, do 
you mind getting to Paris a couple of hours later ? " 
I say, turning to my companion. " Not in the least," 
is the answer. " Very well then, postillion, drive us 
to Sericourt." An hour later I was looking at the 
garden, through the house, the whole of my youthful 
attempts uprose before me ; I felt moved beyond de- 
scription, and next morning I had bought the small 
estate where the recollection of my early thirties helps 
me in cheerfully bearing my sixties.' 

In what way did I become Scribe's collaborates ? 
In what way did we write ' Adrienne Lecouvreur?' 
A short but necessary digression compels me to 
speak of myself, but it is only a roundabout way 

back to him. 


The success of ' Louise de Lignerolles ' in 1838 had 
greatly encouraged me, and in 1844 I read to the 
Committee of the Comedie-Fransaise, a five-act drama 
in verse, entitled, ' Guerrero ou la Trahison.' It was 
accepted without a dissentient voice. After I had 
read the third act, the members of the Committee, 
contrary to all precedent, got up and catching hold of 
my hands congratulated me ; Provost offered to play 
one of the principal parts. The main idea of the 

Years of Recollections 113 

work explained its success, for I may safely say that 
it was rather strong and absolutely new. A fact of 
which I had been an eye-witness and a celebrated 
nage whose friend I had been had inspired that 
idea. In 1829 I had spent my holidays at Saint- 
r, in the department of the Landes with a man 
who had had his share of the world's popularity and 
glory : namely, General Lamarque. His name under 
the Kmpire was inseparably connected with a daring 
exploit, the bold and heroic capture of Capri. 

The general was a native of Saint-Sever and re- 
sided there in 1829. Rich, enjoying great considera- 
tion, a scholar and a clever scholar to boot, he was 
simply wearing himself out with ennui and rage. The 
Kourbons had exiled him in 1815, and though the 
sentence was revoked three years later, he was de- 
prived of all chances of active service, struck off the 
army list, etc., etc. He came to settle in the small 
town where he was born. The idea of his shattered 
r filled him with despair, nothing could corn- 
ate or comfort him for that. To beguile his 
he bethought himself of building a veritable palace, 
ith was spent in the building of it, and 
when it was finished, he flung himself headlong into a 
lation of ' Ossian ' in VCTSC which took him 
another ; .nth. When he had written the last 

took to cultivating flowers, and from 1 
spent a few months Inter, he l>r; 

ctions of geraniums, rose bushes, peonies ; but 
.11 11 

114 .V/.r/r Years of Recollections 

neither building nor bedding, neither rhyming, nor 
constructing palaces prevented the craving of his 
heart, all these amusements only soured him by their 
inaneness, and he relapsed into his former slough of 
despair, a despondency still more embittered by the 
cruel sentiment of his inactivity. His passion for 
soldiering was so intense that when out riding with 
his nephew and myself in the neighbourhood of Saint- 
Sever, he stopped more than once, saying all of a 
sudden : * Look here, young men, do you see that 
height yonder? Well, suppose it were bristling with 
cannon and occupied by Prussians, how would you 
manage to take it?' Saying which, he would put 
spurs to his horse, shouting for us to follow him, and 
breasting the hill, initiate us in the mysteries of 
attacking an outwork. To cut my story short. 
When in 1823 the war with Spain broke out, he could 
no longer restrain himself. The sound of cannon 
suddenly bursting forth in Europe made him lose his 
head, and he, the victor of Capri, the exile of 1815 
wrote to the Minister for War offering his sword, and 
winding up his petition with : ' My greatest ambition 
is to die on the battlefield wrapt in the folds of the 
'white flag.' What proved to be the bitterest of all 
trials was that the Minister proved more tenacious of 
his reputation than he himself; he would not sanction 
his proposed faithlessness and the offer was declined. 
We should not be too hard on him. The passion for 
war is as powerful as that of love and for gambling. 

Si.rfy }\'iirs of AVt v//<v.'. 115 

\ve nt seen a striking instance of it during the 

:ro- Italian campaign. General Changarnicr, 

living in exile at Antwerp was said to spend his days 

by following on the map the march of our troops at 

nta and Solferino, and when in 1870 war broke 

out, he also could hold out no longer. He not only 

forgot the harm the Emperor had done him, but the 

evil he himself had said of the Emperor, and wrote to 

him of whom he had spoken with so much contempt 

and raillery', entreating him in almost the same terms 

of Philoctetes in Sophocles to employ him, no matter 

where, no matter how, without a grade, without pay, 

without a fixed post ; he only wished to hear the 

of the cannon once more. It was that passion 

with all its attendant despair, with all its frenzied 

. and finally leading to disloyalty which I had 

avoured to transfer to th merely changing 

defection into treason 

The rehearsals commenced almost as soon as the 
,d been accepted, and confirmed the favour- 
able predictions it had called forth at the 
ve of its performance Mdlle. Anais, a 

not in the 
' It appears ti 

o you to-morrow.' Unfortunatel) i'r. 

that happy 

'nit the latter part \\ 

Ii6 Si.vfy Years of Recollections 

lent indifference. When leaving the house, I ran 
against Mdlle. Mars who said : ' Too severe in its 
tone, my friend, too severe.' The piece added a good 
deal to my reputation, but not to my exchequer. 
Nevertheless I was indebted to it for one precious 
favour, the friendship of Scribe who had been kind 
enough to attend the rehearsals and who remained 
a warm partisan of the play ; furthermore, for two 
distinctions, the Cross of the Legion of Honour and 
a subsequent invitation to a ball. At that particular 
period the Due de Nemours gave some very brilliant 
balls at the Pavilion de Marsan, the invitations to 
which were greatly prized. Court dress, the coat 
a la Franchise, white kerseymere knee breeches, 
white silk stockings, sword, etc., was strictly enforced. 
I had been told that the prince had been very 
much struck with my drama, and that he would 
willingly send me an invitation, provided he felt sure 
that it would be accepted. I did accept, and on my 
name being announced by the attendant, the Due ad- 
vanced a few steps towards me, which distinction 
made me feel somewhat awkward, seeing that I 
had never spoken to a prince of royal blood. 
My embarrassment, however, soon vanished when 
I saw his. Timidity if it be accompanied by kind- 
ness and courtesy in persons of high rank, is not 
far short of the quality of grace ; the timidity of 
the Due was of that kind. He was not a fluent 
talker, but his looks and gestures conveyed so amiably 

Sixty Years of Recollections 1 1 7 

what his tongue failed to utter, that after a few 
moments we were chatting together like two young 
fellows of the same age. My legs were the most 
awkward part of me. In 1845 shapely calves were 
not the rule in society. Those confounded white 
silk stockings fidgetted me a good deal, I felt as if I 
were decollete below. Moreover, people's vanity 
came into play, everyone was looking at everyone 
else's legs. The fear of looking ridiculous made 
people more sensitive than usual. Fortunately the 
young princes came to the rescue. All four were 
graceful and elegant to a degree, but their tibias 
dwindled down to such thin and feeble 'broomsticks' 
that it looked as if they had ordered them expressly 
to make us feel at home. It was impossible to feel 
ashamed of one's legs after having looked at theirs. 
No legs ever exercised the virtue of hospitality with 
such kindly forethought. Towards eleven o'clock 
the king made his appearance. He was the only one 
who wore trousers. He stood watching the groups 
of dancers with a kind of benevolent cynicism, his 
hat reposing on his abdomen as on a tiny shelf, and 
with such a merry, mischievous twinkle in his eye 
that I instinctively guessed what M. Thicrs told me 
The kin aid one day to me, 'was the 

most brilliant story-teller and the greatest master of 
banter in the whole of his kingdom.' 

* Guerrero,' had been th< , of my intin 

with Scribe. I often went to see him in the morn- 

Il8 Si.v/j' Years of Recollections 

ing. One day I found him in a great state of excite- 
ment ' You are the very man I want,' he said, ' you 
are going to give me a bit of advice. I have had 
an offer which both tempts and frightens me. The 
director of the Com^die-Fran^aise wants me to write 
a part for Mdlle. Rachel.' ' Well, who is to prevent 
you ? ' ' Corneille and Racine. How can I possibly 
put my humble prose in that mouth accustomed to 
recite the verse of " Andromaque " and " Horace ? " 
'What's that to you?' 'You would not be fright- 
ened ? ' * Not in the least.' 'You would dare to write 
a prose part for the representative of Phedre and 
Camille?' ' Certainly, well, find a subject and we'll 
write the piece together.' 

Three days after that I enter Scribe's room with 
the classical ' Eureka ' on my lips. I tell him my idea. 
* Your idea is not a good one, it is devoid of interest.' 
' Devoid of interest,' I exclaim, and forthwith begin 
to defend my idea. ' Let us try,' he says, ' if your 
idea has got anything in it, we'll find it out in Iialf-c:;- 
honr or so. And he immediately begins to turn my 
idea upside down and inside out, to pull it to pieces, 
and to examine every shred of it. ' Not a thing in it, 
as I told you ; you must find something else,' he 
winds up. On that occasion I had the first practical 
demonstration of Scribe's marvellous facility of find- 
ing out at a glance whether an idea was dramatic or 
not. A few days later I call again, this time with 
the subject of ' Adrienne Lecouvreur.' The words 

.V/.r/r Years of Recollections 119 

have scarcely passed my lips when he jumps from his 
chair, rushes towards me, flings his arms round my 
neck, shouting at the top of his voice, 'A hundred 
nights, with six thousand francs receipts each night.' 
* Do you think so ? ' I say. ' I don't think it. I 
feel certain. It is an admirable " find." You have 
hit upon the only means of making Rachel talk 
prose. Come to-morrow morning, and we'll set to 
work immediately.' 

At ten o'clock next morning I was with him. He 
being operated upon by his barber, who held him 
by the nose. The moment he caught sight of me, 
he said quickly, in that peculiar tone of voice of a 
man who is being shaved, ' My dear boy, I have 
found what we want.' ' Take care, Monsieur Scribe, 
you'll make me cut you,' interposed the barber. ' All 
right, but be quick.' And while the razor was gliding 
over his face, his fingers were twitching excitedly, he 
kept looking and smiling at me. No sooner is the 
man's back turned than there comes an avalanche of 
ideas, of more or less defined situations, of outlined 
characters which had sprung up in his mind during 
the last four-and-twenty hours, and which were being 
ched rapidly by him while he was dipping his face 
into the water, while he was brushing his hair and put- 
on his shirt, while he was changin USCTS and 
while he into his waistcoat 
. coat an- his watch chain, for he liked 
tdcwn to his work and ready to go out 

1 20 Si.vty Years of Recollections 

at a moment's notice. As a matter of course, I told 
him the result of my meditations, and then he seated 
himself on a small chair at his writing-table, saying, 
1 And now to work, to work.' 

There is no need to enter into particulars of that 
collaboration, I will only point out two or three facts 
calculated to show Scribe as a man, an author, and a 

In our theatrical slang there exists a very significant 
word ; it is the word ' nume'rotage.' The numbering 
is the planning of the sequential order of the scenes. 
That sequential ordering is not only a kind of classi- 
fication, it also comprises the development, that is, 
the accumulating interest of the play. That number- 
ing is the itinerary of the dramatis persona with the 
points of interest as land marks. Each scene must 
not only be the logical outcome of the scene that pre- 
ceded it and be connected with the one that follows 
it, but it is bound to impart to it its motive and 
movement, so as to push the piece forward without 
interruption and in that way to reach, stage by stage, 
the final aim, in other words the denouement Scribe 
had not only a talent for numbering, he had the 
positive genius of it. No sooner had the plan of a 
piece been sketched than the whole materials for the 
work came to him as if by magic, and placed them- 
selves in their logical position. During one of our 
first conversations on * Adrienne Lecouvreur/ when 
the situations were still in a very sketchy state, he 

Si.i: s of Recollections 12 1 

suddenly got up, then sat down again at his writing 
table. 'What are you doing?' I asked. 'Writing 
out the sequence of the scenes of the first act,' was 
the answer. ' Hut we have not decided as to what 
we are going to put in that first act.' ' Never mind, 
never mind. Don't interrupt the thread.' And forth- 
with he wrote 

SCENE I. The Princesse de Bouillon, The Abbe. 
SCENE II. The Same, the Duchesse d'Aumont. 
SCENE III The Same, the Prince de Bouillon. 

' Hut my dear Scribe,' I remarked, interrupting 
him, ' before bringing the Prince de Bouillon on the 
stage, we ought at least to know . . .' ' Never mind,' 
was the answer, ' the Prince de Bouillon is to appear 
twice in that act, and if I do not " bring him on " at 
that particular moment, I shall not know what to do 
with him.' Saying which, he went on writing and a 
feu days later when all the incidents and scenic 
movements of that first act were finally decided upon, 
the personages almost naturally took up their position 
at the points assigned to them, like guests at a 
dinner where the hostess has inscribed their names. 
I was simply astonished. 1 have rarely met with a 
instructive fact. 

In tin- midst of our work, Scribe was compelled to 

nipt it. He explained the reason in a letter 

\vhi<h I am anxious to quote b< not 

only a phase of his character, but a -limpse of his 


122 .V/.r/r Years of Recollections 

4 My dear friend,' he wrote, ' I am writing this to 
ask you for a longer credit. Our dear Adrienne is 
one of those creatures for whom everything else 
should be put aside. When one is engaged with her, 
one should not be engaged with anyone or anything 
but her. Unfortunately, just at the moment when I 
am beginning the third act, the Opera-Comique - 
claims my services for the new score of Auber ; 
Buloz (the director of the Comedie-Frangaise) asks 
me for a five-act comedy, ' Le Puff,' which is to be 
put on before ' Adrienne ' and finally Montigny (the 
manager of the Gymnase) is sounding a cry of alarm , 
because ' Charlotte Corday ' has turned out a failure. 
He insists upon my finishing ' La Deesse,' a piece in 
three acts, with music and songs in which Saintine is 
collaborating with me. I do not know whether the 
gods are particularly wearisome, one thing I do 
know, this goddess has bored me to death. I sat 
" down to her " in a desperate mood, working from five 
in the morning till late at night, and by dint of such 
labour managed to put together two more or less 
presentable acts. But after these I felt fagged and 
wrote to Saintine to come to the rescue for the third. 
He came and saw, but did not conquer, and now the 
whole affair has to be started afresh. Meanwhile, 
Adrienne whom I love with all my heart, is waiting 
and you are waiting also. But I will take no engage- 
ment with regard to ' Le Puff,' without your sanction. 
I wish to put matters clearly to you, but if my 

.SY.r/r ) 't-ttrs of Recollections 123 

reasons fail to convince you and you cannot grant 
me a delay until October, if the delay grieves you, 
write to me to that effect. That reason will have 
more weight with me than all mine.' 

It would be difficult, I believe, to be more gracious, 
more kind, and let me remind the reader that when 
he wrote that letter, Scribe was in the zenith of his 
fame and I scarcely more than a beginner. Conse- 
quently I answered as follows: ' My dear friend, your 
letter has touched me much more deeply than the 
delay with regard to " Adrienne " is likely to grieve 
me. Your fear of giving me pain went straight to my 
heart. Don't trouble about me and write your comic 
opera, write your " Deesse," and write your " Puff." 
Meanwhile I will write our first two acts, which I will 
take to you personally when finished, to Sericourt.' 
k and read them to him. During the whole of 
my reading the first act, he kept rubbing his head, 
and when it was finished, he said : * It won't do at all. 
hear the second act.' At the fourth page, he 
us to talk to himself in a low voice . . . 'Bravo, 
excellent.' And he sets to laughing and crying and 
clapping his hands, adding, ' As for that act, I'll 
answer fur r Upon my word, I don't often 

get collaboratems <>f your mettle. There is only one 
, to which I object in that second act: Adrir 
with which slur enters.' 'You have hit the 

I >aid laughing. ' That story is a: 
I took it almost word ! >v word ; 

124 .S7. r/ r ] '< w ; T of Recollections 

" Memoirs " of Mdlle. Clairon.' ' That's just it, it 
hangs fire because it is true. I do not wish you to 
misconstrue my meaning. The truth is absolutely 
necessary on the stage, but it has to be focussed in 
accordance with the optical conditions of the stage. 
I am not at all surprised that the story in Mdlle. 
Clairon's " Memoirs " struck you, it was sure to pro- 
duce a great effect in them, because it places before 
you an individual of flesh and blood, a fact that has 
happened and because the actress imparts as it were 
her own life to the story. You take an interest in her 
by being interested in what she says. But on the 
stage we are in the absolute domain of fiction, and 
fiction has its laws. We are speaking not to one 
reader, but to fifteen hundred individuals and the 
number of spectators, the size of the house itself 
change the moral conditions of the effect, just as the 
laws of optics and acoustics modify the material con- 
ditions of that effect. Instead of that true narrative, 
I am going to put an absolutely fictitious one, in- 
vented for Adrienne, suited to Adrienne and which 
will produce the most startling effect upon the public.' 
This was done, and on 6th October 1848 we read 
1 Adrienne' to the Committee of the Comedie-Frangaise. 
Our piece was rejected* without a dissentient vote. 
How it was enthusiastically underlined and put in 
rehearsal six months afterwards is a play within a play 
which I will describe when I come to talk of Mdlle. 
Rachel herself. At present I am in too great a hurry 

:' Years of Recollections u; 

to leave Adrienne in order to show the grand sides of 
Scribe's character and career. 

A careful review of Scribe's career as a playwright 
must necessarily deal with every branch of dramatic 
art, because he himself dealt with everyone of these 
and in each he has left us a model or two which 
if they are not absolutely worthy of imitation, are, at 
any rate deserving of consideration. 

Among the foremost gifts of the dramatist, those 
of invention and imagination rank the highest. \Ve 
must be careful not to confound those two faculties. 
They are closely connected, they support one another, 
but each has its special character and its distinct 
domain. Invention creates, imagination works out 
the thing. To the one belongs the primary idea, the 
finding of the subject, to the other the execution 
thereof. Both are not always to be met with in the 
same man and rarely in equal proportions. A man 
may have more imagination than invention, or more 
invention than imagination. Our own times afford 
us two striking instances of this. Balzac is a mighty 
:itor. He invents wonderful characters, splendid 
'starting points,' but his execution, for lack of im- 
itiun. is often heavy; Balzac falls short of that 
fertility of incidents, that liveliness of dialogue which 
make a powerful work amusing besides. The winged 
goddess did not pass that way. Look, on the other 
!, at Al( Dumas. Ti > >ints of 

belong as of to someone < 

126 Sf'.i't_r }'t'(f/~s of Recollections 

Sometimes he takes them from history, at others he 
has them given to him by his collaborateurs, then 
again he simply borrows them from other works. He 
himself in his charming and unaffectedly good-natured 
Memoirs admits that ' Antony ' was inspired to him 
by the first performance of ' Marion Delorme.' In 
order to stir his faculty of creation he often wanted 
that tap on the cheek which a certain philosopher, 
whose name I forget, declared to be necessary to him 
in order to accelerate the pace of the world. But 
no sooner was that impulse given than Alexandre 
Dumas set the machine a-revolving and with a 
vengeance. No carriage drawn by the most spirited 
team ever went down-hill at such a rattling gallop, 
with greater contempt for everything in its way, with 
greater surety also than a drama or novel by Alexandre 
Dumas proceeded towards its denouement. Even when 
the horses are not his he makes them his by the way 
he handles the ribbons. Nay, they may give him cab 
horses, he makes them step out like thoroughbreds. 

With Scribe the powers of invention and imagina- 
tion were of equal value and of great value. He 
has often been contemptuously relegated among 
the adaptors or arrangers of other people's ideas. 
In reality, no literature in the world has produced 
so powerful a dramatic inventor. One single fact 
will suffice to prove this. For a score of years 
he positively held sway over the four principal 
theatres in Paris ; namely, the Opera, the Opera- 

;: Years of Recollections 127 

Comique, the Gymnase and finally the Comedie- 
e. Each of these four theatres he had 
positively endowed with fresh life or added to its 
intellectual as well as material wealth by writing for 
it. Before him. the repertory of the Opera was com- 
posed, with the glorious exception of * La Vestale ' of 
ical tragedies, merely transformed into so many 
libretti ; Iphigenias, Alcestes, Armitas, CEdipes. or 
kindred subjects, but always the same which, taken 
up in succession by different composers, left the 
librettists scope for nothing save elegant versification. 
What did Scribe bring to it ? Poems. ' Le Prophete,' 
Huguenots,' 'La Juive,' 'Robert le Diable,' 
' Guido et Ginevra,' ' Gustave, ou le Bal MasqueY are 
w. rks the like of which were absolutely unknown 
before Scribe and constitute him one of our greatest 
lyric poets, if we take the word 'poet' in the antique 
. -"I'lTi'i*, creator. One of Scribe's least fav- 
ourably disposed critics has ranked ' Le Prop! 
among Shakespearian conceptions. Whence sprang 
that tlon? 1'Yom the simple penpal of an 

ilhist iition of the Bible, lie was reading the 

n'ption of the marriage in ('ana when he rame 
n the words, 'Woman what have I t<> do with 
lie read no further, for his imagination had 
been struck and had already be ;,m t<> transform the 
f Christ. ' A man r.ulually impelled to 

'f of all his natural 
'ulfil what ; Ion, a man 

128 Sixty Years of Recollections 

sacrificing his duty as a son to assume the part of 
God ; it would be a magnificent character to sketch,' 
he said to himself. ' And what a splendid part it 
would be for Talma.' Unfortunately Talma was dead, 
but fortunately Meyerbeer was alive, and Scribe com- 
posed the libretto of * Le Prophete.' 

What was the Ope"ra-Comique before him ? A 
charming but very mild kind of playhouse. But ' Le 
Domino Noir/ ' La Dame Blanche,' ' La Sirene,' ' La 
Neige,' ' Fra Diavolo,' ' L'Ambassadrice,' * La Part du 
Diable,' opened a new road to music by endowing 
lyrical comedy with a new form. Scribe has contri- 
buted his share to Auber's glory, seeing that Auber 
would not have been the Auber he was without 
Scribe. * Do you know to whom I owe the phrase of 
" Amour sacre de lapatrie"?' said the composer of 
' La Muette de Portici ' (Masaniello), one day to me. 
' To Scribe. One day while we were out walking he 
marked the rhythm of the line so vividly to me that 
the melody came as it were of itself. He had spoken 
my duo to me.' Scribe, therefore, is not only en- 
titled to one patent as an inventor with regard to the 
Opera-Comique, but to two. 

Before the advent of Scribe, a vaudeville was based 
upon a slight story, more or less adorned with song ; 
Scribe 'raised it to the rank of comedy of char- 
acter Le Theatre de Madame * has become a branch 
of the Comcdie-Frangaise. 

* The present Gymnase. TR. 

Si.vty Years of Recollections 1 29 

<\ finally, at the Comedie-Frangaise itself, leaving 
aside the novel experiments implied in such pieces as 
1 I .a Camaraderie,' ' La Calomnie,' ' Le Verre d'Eau, 1 
what is ' Bertrand and Raton ' ? Simply the most 
beautiful political comedy of its repertory. 

Such was Scribe as an inventor. As for his im- 
agination, it was practically inexhaustible in devising 
startling incidents, in overcoming apparently insuper- 
able obstacles. I need only give one instance. ' La 
Revolte au SeVail,' a ballet, the name of the author of 
which I do not remember,* \vas being actively re- 
hearsed at the Opera, Mdlle. Taglioni was to enact 
the principal part. Two days before the first perfor- 
mance, which was already advertised with the quasi- 
sacred and binding word, * Irrevocably/ over it, the 
Director of the Opera (Dr Veron) rushed into Scribe's 
study at nine in the morning : ' I am simply going 
frantic, ruin is staring me in the face, you alone can 
avert it,' he said. 'What is the matter?' asked 
Scribe. ' The performance of my ballet is impossible/ 
1 Why ? ' ' The whole of the success depends on the 
situation of the second act, and that situation i 
follows : Mdlle. Taglioni who is shut up and besieged 
by the revolutionaries in the palace, enlists all the 
women of the huivm, provides them with arms, drills 

* The author of 'La Rlvolte au Slrail' was Mdlle. Taglioni's 
father. By all accounts, it was one of the most stupid prcductions of 
that most stupid of individuals. Nevertheless, the first twenty 

^>ces yielded more money than the first twenty-five performances 

le Diable/ which is not saying little. TK. 

130 .SY.r/r Years of Recollections 

and converts them into soldiers, whose command she 
assumes. She repels the attack.' 'That's a very 
original idea,' replies Scribe. 'That may be,' says 
the director, ( but we discovered yesterday that it is 
perfectly absurd.' ' Why ? ' ' Because in the first act 
she has had a talisman given to her by a magician. 
Hence, she would only have to show that talisman 
and all the eunuchs would take to their heels.' 
* That's true,' remarks Scribe, ' and it makes the affair 
very serious.' ' That's what I say, and under the cir- 
cumstances my only hope lies with you.' ' Very well, 
I'll be with you at rehearsal to-day and try to find 
something afterwards.' 'That won't do at all. It's 
no good trying to find afterwards, I want you to 
find something now, at this very minute. It's of no 
use your coming to dress rehearsal, there will be no 
more dress rehearsals. Between now and to-night, 
this very day, you must find some means of enabling 
me to give the ballet without changing anything, 
for there is no time to change anything, and without 
the necessity of a day's delay, for every day of delay 
means ten thousand francs.' 'Very well,' replies 
Scribe, ' leave me to myself for an hour or so, and I'll 
try to think it out.' 

The director departs and slowly descends the 
score of steps leading to the ground floor, but before 
he can ask the concierge to let him out, he hears a 
voice shouting after him : ' Ve>on, come back, I have 
found what you want.' As a matter of course, V6ron 

AV.r/r Years of Recollections 131 

comes up much quicker than he went down. ' You 
h:ivc found what I want?' he gasps, panting for 

th. 'Yes, \Vivit was Millie. Taglioni's talis- 
man?' 'A ring.' 'Very well, we'll change it into 
\Vh<> was her lover?' * A young attendant 
at the seraglio.' ' We'll transform him into a young 

; ierd. What was the divertissement in the first 
act?' 'A dance before the Sultan in the garden of 
the palace." ' That's all right. After the dance we'll 
make Mdlle. Taglioni sit down on a grassy knoll, 
where she'll fall asleep ; the little shepherd shall steal 
softly towards her and take the rose away, and when 
in the second she'll want to have recourse to her talis- 
man and take it from her bosom, it will no longer be 
there. You see it wasn't, after all, so very difficult to 
get out of the difficulty.' ' I felt sure that you would 
be able to do it,' exclaims Dr Ve'ron, rushing towards 
the stairs which he descends even quicker than he 
had ascended them a few minutes before. A quarter- 
of-an-hour later an envelope is brought to Scribe 
which contains two notes of IOOO francs each, ac- 
companied by the words : 'This is not a fee, merely 
a grateful acknowK ' That was the only 

time. 1 --aid Scribe, when telling the story, * I earned 
tw> thousand francs in two mini;' 

Here is a fact, illu still more forcibly! 

'.ty for tran.sforming things, which in his case was 
nothing short of marvellous. One of his friends 

1C to consult him on a very harrowing and 

132 Sixty Years of Recollections 

sombre five-act drama, intended for the Ambigu. 
'Well, my dear friend and master, what's your 
opinion ? ' says the author after the first act. * Go on,' 
remarks Scribe seemingly absorbed in thought. ' Let 
us have the second act.' The author goes on reading, 
the drama getting more sombre as he proceeds, and 
Scribe's face lighting up as the drama gets more 
sombre. Somewhat surprised at that kind of success 
which he had certainly not foreseen, the poor author 
begins to stutter and stammer and to feel very con- 
fused, until Scribe, unable to hold out any longer, 
suddenly exclaims : ' Upon my word, it's absolutely 
side-splitting.' ' I'll trouble you no longer, c/icr 
maitre, we have had enough of this,' says the author 
somewhat nettled. ' I perceive well enough that my 
piece is very bad.' * What do you mean by bad ; say 
it is excellent, delightful, positively delightful. It 
contains some wonderfully comic effects and I feel 
certain that Ferville will be as amusing as Arnal.' 
At the name of Arnal, the tragic author, indignant 
beyond measure, leaps from his chair. He made 
sure that Scribe had not heard a syllable of his play. 
But he was utterly mistaken. Not only had Scribe 
listened very attentively, but he had reconstructed 
the piece while he was listening, and as each lugubri- 
ous scene dragged its weary length along transformed 
it into a comedy-scene. When the reading was over 
the huge, heavy, commonplace five-act melodrama 
had become a delightful, sparkling comedy in one 

; ) 'ctirs of Recollections 133 

act, which we know under the title of ' La 



Next in importance to the invention of the subject 
stands the planning of a play. Nowadays the plan- 
ning of a play is greatly scoffed at. The author who 
happens to plan his piece carefully is treated to all 
sorts of nicknames, ' bone-setter,' ' osteologist/ ' an- 
atomist,' ' dissector/ ' skeleton-maker,' etc., etc. To all 
of which sobriquets I have but one reply. During the 
last thirty years a goodly number of old pieces have 
been revived ; the only successful ones are the pieces 
based upon a good plan. The plan is to a play what 
it is to a house, the first and foremost condition of its 
beauty and stability. You may load and overload 
a building with the most magnificent decoration and 
ornament, you may use the most solid materials, if 
that building be not erected in accordance with the 
of equilibrium and due proportion that building 
will neither please nor last The same holds good of 
a dramatic story. The dramatic story must before all 
things be clear, and without a plan there can be no 
Tin: dramatic story must proceed without 
page to a defined goal, without a plan such pro- 
s is impossible. The dramatic story must assign 
to each of its characters its proper position, each fact 
must be placed at its exact point ; without a plan tlu u 
be no due regard to proportion. Tin- plan does 
nut only include the ordering of the play: it 

134 S/.rti' Years of Recollections 

includes that which Alexandra Dumas, the elder, 
called the first article of the playwright's creed, the art 
of preparing situations, in other words, of logically and 
naturally leading up to them. The public as a collective 
being is a very odd creature, very exacting, and most 
often very illogical. It insists upon everything being 
led up to, upon being hinted at to them, and at the 
same time it wants to be startled by the quasi-unfore- 
seen. If, to use the popular expression, a thing drops 
upon them from the skies, they are shocked ; if a fact is 
too plainly announced beforehand, they are bored ; in 
order to please them the playwright has to treat them 
both as a confidant and as a dupe : that is, to drop 
carelessly at some point of the play a word that shall 
pass almost unperceived and yet give them an inkling 
of what is going to happen, a word that goes in 
at one ear and out at the other, and which, when the 
' situation ' comes upon them, shall elicit an exclama- 
tion of content, that ah ! which signifies : ' True, he 
warned us, how stupid we were not to have guessed as 

After that their delight knows no bounds, and 
Scribe was a past-master in that particular trick of 
delighting them. I would recommend the perusal of 
one of his master-pieces, ' La Famille Riquebourg/ 
and would ask the reader to pay particular attention 
to a small glass of liqueur introduced in the third scene. 
It looks like nothing at all ; it is brought in as a mere 
adjunct on a salver, it takes its place like a mere 

Sixty Years of Recollections 135 

1 super ' in a tragedy. Well, the whole of the piece 
hangs on that tiny glass of liqueur. Without it the 
piece becomes an impossibility, there is no way out of 
it, the denouement lies virtually at the bottom of that 
tiny glass. 

Finally, the fundamental point of a well-con- 
structed plan is the denouement. The art of un- 
ravelling, especially a comedy, is in some respects an 
almost new art. The public is more difficult to 
please with regard to it and the authors are more ex- 
pert than of yore. I shall not be suspected of wishing 
to depreciate the memory of Moliere when I say 
that in general he does not unravel his pieces, but 
simply finishes them. The moment he has finished 
portraying his characters, and developing their 
passions, he brings upon the stage, one knows not 
whence, a father who finds the long-looked-for son, 
one knows not how ; everybody embraces everybody 
else and the curtain goes down. That fashion of ter- 
minating a piece, by hook or by crook, would not 
be tolerated nowadays, one would have to be a 
Moliere to dare do such a thing. Nowadays one of 
the first laws of the dramatist's art is to make the 

tement the logical and enforced consequence of 

the characters or the events of the play. The last 

scene of a play is often written before the first. 

..isc while that last scene has not been found 

there is virtually no piece, and as soon as the auth.r 

got hold of his </< /. ' lu- must not lose 

136 T Years of Recollect iotis 

sight of it for a moment and make everything sub- 
ordinate to it. The novelist may at a pinch begin 
without knowing exactly whither he is going ; he 
may, like the hare of the fable, stop every now and 
then to browse the grass, to listen from which quarter 
the wind blows ; but the dramatic author is bound 
to take the tortoise as his model, though he must 
go at a somewhat quicker pace. In other words, 
he must start at the right moment and not loiter 
by the way. Above all, while advancing he must 
never lose sight of his goal. 

Scribe is one of the authors of our time who was 
fully alive to the importance of the denouement and 
who succeeded best in applying the severest laws to 
it. Nay, he applied these laws to the works of 
others also and most often to the works he admired 
most. One day I heard him in the heat of a con- 
versation on the art of writing comedy, reconstruct 
two denouements of Moliere, that of ' Les Femmes 
Savantes ' and that of ' Tartuffe.' ' What a pity,' he 
said, ' that Moliere terminates that beautiful character- 
play like a genre comedy by the trivial artifice of 
a false piece of news, by a fictitious ruin. He 
had such a capital denouement ready to hand. The 
conclusion sprang so naturally from the very entrails 
of the subject. I should have finished my piece with 
the admirable scene between Vadius and Trissotin. 
The picture of those two " prigs," abusing and unmask- 
ing one another, destroying their own and their dupes' 

: ' Yetirs of Recollections \ 3 7 

illusions would have terminated a masterly \vork in a 
masterly way. As for " Tartu fife " that is altogether 
different. As a rule people cavil at the dc'no:ien. 
personally I think it admirable. First of all, it has 
that merit, as far as I am concerned, that without 
that dJnouemext we should probably not have had 
the piece at all, and there is very little doubt that 
Moliere only got the play sanctioned by making the 
king one of the actors in it. Secondly, that denoue- 
ment is unquestionably a striking picture of the times. 
Here we have got an honest, upright man who 

valiantly fought for his country and who having 
become the victim of the most obvious and most 
odious of machinations finds not a single hand 
stretched out to defend him either in society or on 
the part of the law. In order to save him, the 
sovereign himself has to intervene like the Dens ex 
machitm. Where could we find a more terrible 
indictment against the reign itself than in that im- 
mense eulogy of the king. That's why I admire 
that denotement so much,' said Scribe, 'and that's 
why I would change it if I had to write- the piece to- 
day. To-day, in fact, the only sovereign is the law 
itself The word of the sovereign simply me.m^ the 

les of the Code. The code, therefore, should be 
entrusted with the r61e of Louis XIV; it is to the 
code I would look for my denouement. I would 

ntC int.. a magistrate and when I 
" I'h- > me and I'll show you 

138 :y Years of Recollections 

that it does," Cleante should exclaim : " No, it does 
not belong to you, for you owe it to the gener- 
osity of a benefactor, to an absolutely free gift, and 
the law has provided for wretches of your stamp 
by these two avenging lines : ' Every donation may 
be revoked on the proof of the ingratitude of the 
recipient.' I dare you to come and claim this house 
before the law. If you do, you will find me there 
also with the patent proofs of your abominable 
ingratitude. You had better come then, but remem- 
ber, I'll be waiting for you." ' 

Next to the plan of a comedy comes, as a matter 
of course, its style and the portrayal of its characters ; 
before venturing to discuss these two subjects, I 
would dwell for a moment on a fundamental point of 
our art which, moreover, occupies a considerable place 
in Scribe's work and which partly constitutes its 

On the first night of * Hernani,' Scribe occupied a 
box in the centre of the house on the first tier, I was 
in a side box on the second tier, and I watched him 
following the development of the piece with the 
closest attention, standing up all the while, and dar- 
ing to laugh openly at the most sensational incidents. 
It was not only a bold thing to do, for he made 
himself a good many relentless enemies on that 
occasion, but it was also a bold profession of his 
dramatic, I might add, his philosophical, creed. The 
fact is that every comic author has within him the 

\/.r/r Years of Recollections 139 

making of a philosopher, I mean that he carries 
within him an aggregate of general ideas, a theoretic 
conception of life of which his comedies are only the 
realisation. He owes those general ideas either to 
his own nature or to the surroundings amid which he 
lias been brought up, and they represent the part of 
his own thoughts and character in the work of his 
imagination, they constitute his social and moral part 
in the part in the play. 

This dual part of Scribe was very considerable 
though it may be summed up in one line, Scribe 
represents the bourgeoisie. Born in the Rue St Denis, 
he remains throughout and therein lies his strength 
the man of the Rue St Denis, that is, the incarnation of 
that Parisian middle-class, hard-working frugal, honest, 
which perhaps lacks sentiment for everything that 
is great, the class which does not aspire to a very 
ited ideal, but which is heir to those precious 
gifts of nature commonsense, kind-heartedness and 
the domestic virtues. 

Hence, Scribe's original place in the literature 
of the Restoration. He was the living and natural 
antithesis to romantic ism. While ' Antony ' dragged 
us with him, bewildered and intoxicated like him- 
into the maelstrom of adulterous passion, 
while 'Hernani' made us frantic with enthusiasm 
hand of brigands, while 'Marion Delorme ' en- 
deavoured to force upon us the dogma of the 
dem: Men woman by pure love; he, 

1 40 Sixty Years of Recollections 

Scribe sang the praises of conjugal happiness, and 
selected for his heroines young girls who had not 
been subject to such temptations. One has but 
to take up the various works that compose Scribe's 
repertory, such as ' Le Mariage de Raison,' ' Une 
Chaine,' * Les Premieres Amours/ ' Le Mariage d' 
Argent,' and at no matter which page we open them 
we shall find everywhere the defence of paternal 
authority, sense getting the better of passion. Scribe's 
muse is the ' feet-on-the-fender ' muse, the ' bread- 
and-butter-cutting ' muse, if you like, but it is the 
muse of the family home. The story goes that 
after seeing ' Le Mariage d'Inclination/ a young girl 
flung herself into her mother's arms, confessing her 
intention to elope ; after a play by Alexandre Dumas 
she would have flung herself into the arms of her 
lover, saying, * Take me away.' 

The bourgeoisie is, furthermore, represented in 
Scribe's comedies by the patriotic sentiments with 
which these comedies teem. His warriors, his medal- 
led veterans^ his fire-eaters, his colonels have raised 
many a smile since, as far as we are concerned they 
made us cry for we had not long ago been invaded 
and our wounds were by no means healed ; each of 
his songs in his farcical comedies proved a consola- 
tion and a kind of revenge ; unless I am very much 
mistaken we would not laugh at them nowadays. 

Finally, Scribe was both a conservative and an 
agitator, supporting the throne and making sport of 

Si.rtr Years of Recollections 141 

thj chamber ; praising the King and satirising his 
Ministers in song, and especially pitilessly scourging 
those recantations which those who profited by 
them would fain have had us accept as conversions. 
In connection with that subject, I happen to remem- 
ber a very interesting story, its date is the beginning 
of the second Empire, somewhere about 1854. One 
day, at some reception or other, Scribe happened to 
run against an important personage, an old school- 
fellow whom we will call M. de Verteuil. 'What 
are you doing?' asks his friend, 'some comedy on the 
stocks, I suppose?' 'Yes,' replies Scribe, 'I fancy I 
have got hold of a charming subject. I intend to 
put on the stage a ' Peer of France,' of the time of 
Louis- Philippe's reign,* who becomes a senator under 
Napoleon III. You may see for yourself what a 
fund of comic traits I ought to extract from such a 
senator's recantations, from his awkward position in 
trying to reconcile his adherence of to-day with his 
adherence of formerly. I think it will be delightful.' 
At that moment the two friends were separated by a 
batch of guests and shortly afterwards Scribe went 
home, engrossed in thought and not very cheerful, 
-ation had set him thinking. ' I am 
afraid,' he said to himself, 'that my subject is not 
as good as I fancied it to be; de Verteuil is a 

clever man, I tried to give him a sj>iriu-< : 
count of my plot, but it went without a smile. T 
* The pers created by Louis-Philippe were only life peers. TK. 

142 Si.rty Years of Recollections 

is no mistake about it, he did not seem amused in 
the least, a bad sign that, I feel sure.' While talking 
to himself he mechanically opens the evening paper, 
and the first thing he sees is the following : ' M. de 
Verteuil, a former peer of France, has been called to 
the Senate.' 

And now let us look for a moment at some of the 
characters of Scribe's plays and at his style. I may 
frankly confess that these show the two weak points 
in Scribe's works. He failed to look at humanity in 
any other light than that of the ' float.' He had a 
profound knowledge of men and women, but he 
invariably saw them like so many theatrical person- 
ages ; hence, the curious fact that, though he has 
created a great number of very attractive parts, he has 
produced very few general and deeply pondered types. 
Not that life and truth are wanting in the characters 
he brings on the stage, his faculty of subtle observa- 
tion enables him well enough to dissect and to depict 
boldly their foibles, their passions and aims ; they 
talk as they should talk, they behave as they should 
behave in the situation in which they are placed, but 
they are only the men and women of that situation ; 
they fill it adequately but never go beyond it. On the 
other hand, and to take only one instance, when one 
reads Shakespeare, his characters seem to be endowed 
with such powerful breath of general vitality, they are 
stamped with such individuality as to convey the idea 
that in every possible circumstance they would act 

.SV.r/r Years of Recollections 143 

and carry themselves just as they are acting and 
carrying themselves in the situation in which they are 
presented to us at that moment. They are not only 
stage parts, they are men and women, and what is 
more, men and women equipped for the whole battle 
of life. 

\Ve look in vain for something similar in Scribe. 
He rarely conveys the idea of possessing the power to 
create strongly marked characters, and excepting 
4 Bertrand and Raton,' and the last and admirable 
scene of ' L'Ambitieux,' one is compelled to admit 
that his comedies are stage pictures rather than real 
pictures of the human heart. 

His style is open to similar objections, the language 
of coined}- should be at the same time a colloquial 
and a polished language, (//;/< lauguc parlcc ct utic 
riU . To perceive this at once we have but 
to read ' L'Avaiv.' I.e 1-Vstin de Pierre,' and ( Gee 
Dandin.' No doubt, it is Harpagon and Don Juan 
who speak, but we also feel that it is Moliciv who 
makes them speak. Scribe has only half of those 
tyle has all the requisites of conversation, 
the conversation is natural, bright, it trips along and 
sparkles, but one regretfully notices the want of that 
richness of colouring and that surety of outline which 
alone constitute the -ivat writer. He falls short in 
one oth< < t. A comic writer putting on the 

stage the characters of his own time is bound to give 

them the language of his own time, unfortunately there 

144 f y Years of Recollections 

is a great deal of jargon, consequently there are a great 
many ephemeral elements in that language. Odd to 
say, the feeling that ' springs eternal in the human 
breast ' is subject to the most transitory form of ex- 
pression. That part of a stage play which grows 
obsolete soonest is the love episode. Even such love 
letters as have been written to yourself, should you 
take them up after a lapse of years, will make you die 
with laughter. Their comic effect is in direct propor- 
tion to their tenderness. The art of the great dra- 
matist is to distinguish in the current idiom the 
perishable element in order to borrow from that idiom 
only that which is strictly necessary to impregnate 
his dialogue with the tone and the flavour of the 

Moliere writes both in the language of his time 
and in the language of all time ; Scribe in virtue of 
his very scenic instinct, makes too much use of the 
dictionary of the Restoration. Finally the impetu- 
osity, the despotism of his dramatic temperament led 
him to make everything subservient to the action of 
the play ; absolutely everything, even to grammar, 
not from ignorance, for he knew his own language 
very well, but knowingly, and with deliberate pre- 
meditation. I happened to be present one day at a 
rehearsal of one of his pieces, when all at once one of 
his characters delivered himself of a slightly incorrect 
phrase. I suggested a more correct one. ' No, no, my 
dear boy,' says Scribe, ' your sentence is too long ; 

r Years of Recollections 145 

there is no time for it. My sentence is probably not 
very orthodox, but the action is proceeding apace, 
and the sentence must follow suit ; that's what I call 
the economical style.' On the other hand, it is not 
from economical motives, but from necessity, that he 
wrote certain lyrical lines with which he is constantly 
being reproached, and of which reproach I would fain 
cleanse his memory. First of all, you may adopt it 
as a principle that whenever you meet with a very 
bad line in an opera that it is the composer and not 
the librettist who has perpetrated it. The despotism 
of the former is beyond most people's imagination, 
and no words can convey an idea of the fate of an 
elegant strophe when he happens to lay hold of it ; 
he shatters it to pieces, he amputates it, he supplies 
artificial limbs to it ; it is simply monstrous. The 
famous Alexandrine of the ' Huguenots ' 

' Ses jours sent menaces. Ah ! je dois 1'y soustraire.' 

was never written by Scribe, it belongs to Meyerbeer. 

be had correctly written 

" Ce complot odieux 
Qui menace ses jours, ah ! je dois 1'y soustraire.' 

But that </ui happened to be in Meyerbeer's way. 
Meyerbeer cut it out, and substituted his horrible 
hemistiVh, the unfortunate librettist backed it as one 
9 an accommodation bill, and when the bill was 
protested, it was he who paid. I am anxious to get to 
the fifth point of my drain, itir survey, to the 'staging' 

Vol.. || K 

146 .SY.r/j' Years of Recollections 

of a phi\', for there we shall find Scribe occupying 

the foremost rank. 


The staging of a' play, especially of a comedy, is 
also a wholly modern art. No doubt, in former days, 
the author wrote on his manuscript : ' The stage 
represents a drawing-room/ but there was nothing 
to show that the action did take place in a drawing- 
room. First of all, the dramatis persona kept on their 
legs. We all recollect the actors at the Comedie- 
Frangaise stepping to the footlights, side by side and 
delivering their speeches before the prompter's box. 
A clever writer who since then has been become an 
official personage wanted to introduce on the stage 
of the Com&die-Frangaise what he called ' seated 
comedy.' Unfortunately, his piece turned out a 
failure and what he called 'seated comedy' became 
prostrate comedy. Scribe was one of the first to 
introduce on the stage the animation and bustle of 
real life. The very nature of his talent compelled 
him, as it were, to do so. His bustling, sparkling 
comedies, full of incidents and apparently spontaneous 
situations did not lend themselves easily to the 
sobriety of movement of the stage of yore. In reality, 
a manuscript of Scribe only contains part of his work, 
the part which is spoken ; the rest must be enacted, 
the gestures must complete the meaning of the words, 
the intervals of silence are part of the dialogue and 
the small dots finish the sentence. 

Si.r/]' Years of Recollections 147 

lias it ever struck you to compare the punctuation 
of a piece by Scribe with that of a piece by Moliere ? 
In Moliere's each thought is virtually terminated by a 
stop, and in his dialogue he rings the changes 
according to the rhythm of the sentence itself, on 
stops and commas, double stops, (semi-colons), marks 
of interrogation and every now and then of ex- 
clamation. Scribe has added to these the small 
dots, that is, the unfinished sentence, the sentiment 
merely hinted at, the partly expressed thought In 
proof of this, I might point out in ' La Camaraderie,' a 
monologue of a page in which I have counted eighty- 
three of those little dots. Truly, the monologue so 
full of reticence is that of a young girl, and young 
girls proverbially say only half of what they think. 

Certain is it, though, that that system of small dots 
contains a wholly new school of stagecraft, and that 
Scribe was justified in saying that the staging of a 
play was equivalent to a second creation, to adding a 
new piece to the first. 

Those who never saw Scribe conjure up a dramatic 
work from, what for want of a better term, I may call the 
limbo of the manuscript, those who never saw Scribe 
'put a piece on the ^ta-e'and remain with it until 
it could stand alone, only know half of the real 
Scribe. I h to be t one <lay at a 

: I happened to conn- in at 

the very moment when Scribe was arranging the 
n the third act I cannot do better 

148 Sixty Years of Recollections 

than ask the reader to picture to himself a general on 
the battlefield, he was here, there, and everywhere at 
the same time, he was enacting every part ; at one 
moment he was the crowd, the next the Prophet, 
the next the woman, then striding at the head of the 
insurgents with a fierce air, his spectacles pushed up 
to his forehead ; after that, and with his spectacles still 
on his forehead, rushing to the opposite side of the 
stage, and enacting the part of Berthe, pointing out to 
everyone his or her place, marking the bounds with 
a piece of chalk, at the exact spot where this or that 
actor had to stop ; in short, combining so skilfully the 
evolution of his diverse characters as to make their 
most animated movements perfectly well ordered and 
investing that order throughout with grace. 

No sooner was the third act finished than we rushed 
away to the Comedie-Franc^aise to attend another 
rehearsal, that of the second act of ' Les Contes de 
la Reine de Navarre,' an act altogether different from 
the other, an act played by four characters only, an 
act of a more or less domestic, home-like nature. 

And in accordance with the theme Scribe becomes 
all of a sudden a different man. The energy dis- 
played but half-an-hour previously in handling large 
masses and in making them convey by their gestures 
and grouping some of the effects of popular passions, 
that energy had made room for a subtle, critical 
faculty of interpreting the most refined and delicately 
shaded feelings. Before his arrival the actors them- 

Years of Recollections 149 

js had become conscious that the act wanted life, 
that it was dragging somewhat heavily along. No 
sooner does he set his foot on the stage, than, without 
adding a word, he ' besprinkles ' the dialogue with 
such telling gestures, such effective attitudes, such 
ingenious pauses, he avails himself so adroitly of the 
chairs and tables, as of so many advantages of posi- 
tion as to emphasise the situation and to heighten 
the interest. His characters so vague in outline but a 
minute before, now stand out in relief ; the action of 
the piece becomes clear, animated : full of life; a 
magician had touched it with his wand. 

Nor is that all. The art of ' staging ' became a 
kind of revelation to him. By the light of that small, 
dim lamp that stood on the ricketty little table dur- 
ing rehearsals his manuscript revealed to him things 
he did not suspect of being there. He has often 
told me what happened to him with a very interesting 
drama, entitled ' Philippe,' which he had written in 
conjunction with Bayard and which turned on the 

i cry of an illegitimate birth. 

The piece opened with the disclosure of that secret. 

Scribe, who was to attend the rehearsals, makes 

at the very moment the actor is 

iling the secret to the public. 'It is too soon,' 

;ins, l \ve must put off that iwrlation till 

the second scene.' Next morning the revelation 

is introduced into the second seen.-. Too soon,' he 

aims once more, 'it inu^t he put off till the 

1 50 Sixty Years of Recollections 

third scene.' The revelation was put off accord- 
ingly, but Scribe still considered it too premature. 
He kept on deferring it until finally the original ex- 
position became the denouement of the piece. 

Nevertheless, I feel bound to qualify my praise. If 
Scribe was the founder of the modern art of ' staging,' 
it is but fair to admit that two important parts of that 
art were utterly beyond his ken. He had no know- 
ledge either of scenery or costumes. Odd to relate, it 
would be difficult to find an imagination going farther 
a-field than Scribe's and remaining so thoroughly 
within the limits of home. His imagination wandered 
through every country of the world, while at the 
same time it always remained in Paris. At the be- 
ginning of his comic operas and operas he put : * The 
scene of the piece is laid at St Petersburg,' * The scene 
of the piece is laid in Madrid,' ' The scene of the 
piece is laid in Pekin,' notwithstanding that the 
scene of the piece was virtually in Paris. When he 
wrote the words ' an inn,' ' a kitchen,' ' a palace,' his 
' mind's eye ' always perceived the selfsame inn, 
kitchen or palace. As for his characters, he mentally 
decked them out in all kinds of finery, not to say rags, 
which had not the slightest connection with the 
country in which those characters were supposed to 
live and act. He made them speak and bestir them- 
selves, but as for housing and clothing them, he did 
not trouble about it. This defect, apparently alto- 
gether on the outside, was due to the deficiency in his 

: ) \\irs of Recollections 1 5 1 

intellect to which I have already drawn attention. 
He lacked the gift of individualising. Fortunately he 
met with a marvellous collaborateur in M. E. Perrin. 
M. E. Perrin who had not only an instinctive taste for, 
but a practical knowledge of scenery and costume has 
often told me of Scribe's amazement at the sight of 
the transformation of his interiors and characters by 
a consummate stage manager. 

I feel reluctant to wind up this essay on Scribe as a 
dramatist without mentioning another of his collabora- 
teurs who may be termed unique in his own way, for 
that collaborateur was nothing less than a king. 

About 1850 Scribe adapted Shakespeare's 'Tem- 
pest' into an operatic libretto.* The English were 
very anxious to have it performed in London and 
Scribe went thither to superintend the rehearsals. 
His first visit on the day after his arrival was to Louis- 
Philippe. Scribe had never been a republican, it was 
one of the rare subjects on which we did not agree, 
he had, furthermore, been too warmly welcomed at the 
Tuileries not to undertake 'a pilgrimage' to Claremont. 

Those who knew him said that Louis-Philippe was 
one of the most brilliant talkers of his time, and as a 
matter of course, he gracefully brought the conversa- 
tion round to the subject of the ' Tempest,' then all of 
a sudden, in a semi-bantering, semi-serious tone, he 
1 : 'Do you know, M. Scribe, that I have 

Hale'vy, the composer or ' La Juive' was in London with Scribe at 
that time. Was it his opera ? TK 

152 Sixty Years of Recollections 

the honour of being a colleague of yours ? ' ' You, 
sire ? ' ' Yes, indeed, I. You have come to London 
for an opera ; well, I also wrote an opera when I was 
a young man, and I give you my word it was by no 
means bad.' 'I can well believe that, sire; you have 
done more difficult things than that.' ' More difficult 
to you, perhaps, but not to me. I took for my sub- 
ject the Cavaliers and Roundheads.' 'A good sub- 
ject, sire/ assented the author of ' Les Huguenots.' 
' Well, I happen to have come upon the manuscript 
very recently. Shall I give you an idea of it? I 
should like to have your opinion on it.' * I am at 
your disposal, sire.' 

Thereupon, Louis-Philippe in his most brilliant 
manner starts telling Scribe the substance of his first act, 
and at first Scribe sits listening, respectfully, without in- 
terruption as he would have listened to a speech from 
the throne, but gradually,as the piece proceeds, the play- 
wright's feelings get the upper hand and he absolutely 
forgets that his interlocutor is, or at any rate was, a 
king ; he forgets everything except that there is the 
scenario of an opera being submitted to him, and 
interrupting the speaker at a faulty passage, he says : 
4 Oh, that won't do at all.' ' Why won't it do ? ' asks 
the King, slightly nettled. ' Because it is improbable, 
and what's worse, devoid of interest.' ' Devoid of 
interest, devoid of interest,' repeats the King. * My 
dear Monsieur Scribe, just allow me. . . .' But the 
King might have saved himself the trouble ; Scribe 

Sixty Years of Recollections 1 5 3 

was 'off;' their respective parts had been reversed ; 
it was the author who was the king for the moment. 
L Do you know what you want there, sire ? You want 
a love scene there. Politics are well enough in a minis- 
terial council, but in an opera we must have the love- 
passion.' ' In that case, let's have a love scene,' 
replies Louis-Philippe, laughing. And forthwith 
they begin to devise and to discuss until it is time 
fi >r Scribe to return to town. ' Already,' says the 
King ; ' one moment, I'll not let you go unless you 
promise me to come and lunch with me to-morrow. 
Our opera is not finished. I shall expect you to- 
morrow.' ' Very well, sire, till to-morrow.' 

Next morning on arriving at Claremont whom 
should he see standing sentry at the door of the 
King's study ? The Queen, who was watching for him, 
apparently in a very excited state. ' May heaven 
bless you, M. Scribe,' she said. ' For the first time 
since we left Paris the King dined heartily last night. 
and during the whole of the evening he was cheerful 
and talked a good deal. This morning on entering 
his room he was sitting up in bed, rubbing his fore- 
his ancestor Henri IV used to do when he 
felt pu/./.led and saying in a low voice to himself, 
" That confounded Scribe, he thinks it is a very easy 
matter." And he was smiling all the while. Oh, do 
come back, Monsieur Scribe, do come back as 
as you can, every day if possible while you are in 
London. Will you promise me?' 

1 54 Sixty Years of Recollections 

Scribe promised and kept his word. For a whole 
week he went every morning to pour a few drops of 
joy on that broken heart, to shed a few rays of light 
into that mournful home, and on his return to France 
he brought back the most glorious author's fees 
he had ever received in his life, the gratitude of an 
exile, the affection of a deposed king and the bless- 
ings of a woman who was little short of a saint. 

These recollections would be very incomplete if I 
omitted to show Scribe as a man and a friend. It 
would be worse than inaccuracy on my part, it would 
be a want of gratitude. One day, M. Thiers, allud- 
ing to himself said to me, ' After all is said and done, 
I am a good fellow.' I will paint Scribe with one 
word, he was ' a good fellow ' in every possible sense 
of that charming word. A good fellow is unaffected ; 
a good fellow is lively and gay ; a good fellow is good 
and kind ; a good fellow is artless, if not always, at 
any rate sometimes ; a good fellow is modest. Well, 
Scribe was all that. We may take it that he could not 
have been ignorant of his own merits. Forty years of 
success must have pretty well enlightened him in that 
respect, but he really seemed to give them no thought 
One day in the course of conversation some one 
quoted enthusiastically the trenchant remark of 
Royer-Collard with regard to M. * * * ' He is not an 
ass, he is the ass.' ' I don't consider that so very 
extraordinary,' said Scribe, in the simplest way im- 
aginable, ' I fancy I could find as good.' Is not this 

Si.vfy Years of Recollections 1 5 5 

delightful from the lips of a man who was so witty 
that people twitted him with being too witty.' 

The following story will, however, give an abso- 
lutely striking portrait of him. Scribe generally 
spent the autumn months with his friends in the 
country. In the evening they amused themselves 
with reading English novels, and the reader was a 
poor governess who, in an interval between two 
chapters, said with a sigh, ' Ah, if I could only realise 
my dream.' 'And what may your dream happen to 
be, mademoiselle ? ' asked Scribe. ' To have one day, 
not now, but many years hence, an income of twelve 
hundred francs a year, which would insure my peace 
and quietness and independence.' A few weeks later, 
one evening, after she had come to the end of some 
nificant novel, Scribe all of a sudden said to her, 
1 Do you know, mademoiselle, that there is a subject 
for a capital one-act comedy in that story, if you like 
we'll write it together, seeing that you gave me the 
subject.' As a matter of course the girl was but too 
glad to accept. Three days after, Scribe comes down 
to the drawing-room with his comedy finished and 
three months after that the papers announce its first 
performance. On the morning of the adver: 

, Scribe repairs to his dramatic agents. * To- 
night there is a premiere of a piece of mine, which 
:>een written in conjunction with a lady,' he says. 
' I have not the faintest idea what the result will be; 
this much I do know, that tin- piece will *have to 

1 56 Sixty Years of Recollections 

yield twelve hundred francs a year for life to the joint- 
authoress. You may arrange the matter just as you 
please, provided it looks genuine.' Rather a delicate 
proceeding this on the part of Scribe, who has been 
so often accused of plagiarism, but who in this in- 
stance did not borrow his plot from any one, and 
who, I fancy, has not had many imitators in that re- 
spect. But the best of the story has to be told. The 
governess who had relished her success, kept con- 
stantly suggesting to Scribe new plots for comedies, 
drawn from English novels, which Scribe as con- 
stantly declined with a smile. After that, the gover- 
ness, whenever they praised Scribe to her, protested 
in a soft, gentle, cooing tone. ' Yes, yes, there is no 
doubt about it, he is a charming young fellow. But 
I am afraid gratitude is not one of his pet virtues. 
We wrote a very pretty piece together, seeing that 
it brings us each twelve hundred francs per annum, 
why does he refuse to write another ? ' Scribe never 
dispelled her illusion. 

Assuredly a man who is not only superior to most 
men but a good fellow to boot is a delightful phe- 
nomenon, not to mention the splendid faculty of im- 
agination which not only concocts a pretty piece out 
of an indifferent novel, but makes it the basis of a 

kindly action. 


I have now come to the most 'delicate point 
in this essay. No doubt, old chums occupied a 

.V/'r/r Years of Recollections 157 

large space in Scribe's life ; but 'petticoats' occupied 
a still greater. The latter enacted as many parts 
in his existence as they enacted in his pieces, or 
to put it correctly, they have all enacted the same 
part. Where, in fact, could he have found so many 
delightful love scenes, if not in his own heart? A 
woman who knew Scribe * very well,' who, in fact, had 
had every possible opportunity of knowing him well, 
once gave me a description of ' Scribe in love.' I am 
alluding to Jenny Vertpre to whom Horace Walpole's 
mot on Mme. de Choiseul might well apply : * She is 
the prettiest little fairy that ever came out of a fairy 
egg,' for it is the portrait of Jenny Vertpre herself. A 
young general of the First Empire having come to 
bid her good-bye just before starting for Russia, could 
not withstand the temptation and carried her off in 
his big cloak, and snugly ensconced in their carriage, 
they got as far as Dantzig, she cosily wrapped up in the 
cloak, like a bird in its nest. She was only sixteen, 
with eyes like a squirrel's, gleaming little teeth like 
those of a mouse, and hair the hue of the raven's wing. 
And with it all, such a figure and such a smile, not to 
mention her cleverness. When Scribe drew the 
delightful character of Mnu-. 1'inehon, he wrote to her 
as follows : ' My dear Jenny ; I have drawn a part for 
you, made up of your own say She was the 

m actor of the Vaudeville and had grown 
up side by side, in fact, on the same story of the 
same house with Dejazet. Every morning the two 

158 Sixty Years of Recollections 

little girls went down to buy the milk and the char- 
coal for the two households. Trotting about together 
they compared notes as to their respective school 
learning. Dejazet could read, and Jenny Vertpre 
knew her catechism. The latter fact elicited the 
serious admission of Dejazet years afterwards to 
Jenny, that she loved her very much, ' because it is to 
you I owe my religious principles.' * The comic part 
of the business/ added Jenny laughing, ' was that she 
meant what she said, for Dejazet has always been 
very devout. She always went to mass in the little 
village where she lived, after she retired from the 

From Dejazet I led Jenny Vertpr6 to talk about 

' Oh, the scamp,' she said, * he would not have been 
able to begin work without at least half-a-dozen letters 
from as many women on his table.' ' What was he like 
when young ? ' 'A kind of face such as one might 
find described in a passport. Nose average, forehead 
average, chin average, shape average, somewhat heavy. 
What distinguished him from the crowd was a pair 
of small green eyes, full of mischief and sparkle and 
never still, beneath enormous, bushy eyebrows. But 
there was above all, his mouth, with two dimpled 
corners like a child's. And with it all amusing, spruce 
and neat, with soft, cajoling ways, a regular " boobfy." ' 
I protested. * I am telling you the truth,' she added 
with her diabolical little smile, ' it was a positive sin 

Sixty Years of Recollections 1 59 

to deceive him, it was as easy as A, B, C.' I felt down- 
right astonished. Scribe easily deceived. ' You are 
surprised,' she went on. ' That shows you did not 
know the Scribe of my days. My dear fellow, he 
was an absolute simpleton.' 

To this portrait from a woman's lips I may add 
another, drawn by Scribe himself. We were talking 
about the Gymnase and the celebrated actor Gontier. 
' Gontier,' said Scribe, * was very clever at caricaturing 
people. One day, in the green-room, after having 
drawn several actors and actresses with more than his 
ordinary success, he starts another sketch which 
simply sets them all in a roar and frantic with delight. 
I am the only one who does not join in the general 
merriment. "Who is this ? " I ask. " I don't know 
that thickhead." Thereupon the laughter grows all 
the louder. That "thickhead" was myself This 
Scribe, every inch of him ; never endeavouring 
to make himself out better than he was, never pluin- 

himself upon anything, ever holding his tor 
about his love affairs. 

One night at the Opera ball, a masked woman 
comes up to him, begins to talk and finally puts her 
arm in his. Her very walk showed that >he was 
young, and a pair of black eyes, flashing through the 
apertures in her mask, bred the supposition that she- 
was good-looking. The con n becomes more 
and more animated; the masked womai d to 
be clever and Sci ul more i He 

160 .SY.r/r Years of Recollections 

also begins to talk cleverly, becomes more pressing 
and his companion's resistance grows fainter and 
fainter. He offers the hospitality of his bachelor's 
quarters and the offer is accepted. In those days he 
lived near the Bourse, on the third floor of a large 
house. Off they go, in a little while they reach his 
home and are ascending the staircase. All of a 
sudden when they get to the first story, the lady 
stops. ' We are not there, yet,' says Scribe. ' In- 
deed, we are,' says the lady. ' I am sorry to contra- 
dict you,' replies Scribe merrily, ' one of these days I 
may be fortunate enough -to live on the first floor, but 
at present. . . .' ' At present,' interrupts the lady, 
taking off her mask, * at present it is I who am living 
there.' ' I don't understand, madame ? ' ' Yes, mon- 
sieur, this is my domicile, and now, good neighbour, 
allow me to thank you with all my heart. I lost 
my husband in the crowd and felt dead frightened. 
Fortunately for me I happened to fall in with the 
most charming of knight-errants who, for my edifica- 
tion, improvised one of the most delightful episodes 
and love scenes he ever put in his comedies, with the 
prettiest denouement possible, for all of which kind- 
ness I feel sincerely obliged and for which my hus- 
band will come to thank him personally to-morrow.' 
Thereupon she sweetly curtsies to Scribe and dis- 
appears through her own doorway, leaving him on the 
landing, looking more or less sheepish, confused and 
grieved. Whether the lady felt touched by his re- 

Sixty Years of Recollections 161 

proachful and regretful parting glance, I am unable to 
say. The little comedy in one act may have had a 
sequel, but Scribe never breathed a syllable of it. 

All his adventures, though, did not miscarry like 
this, inasmuch as he by no means took his love-affairs 
in a tragical spirit. He did not pretend to enact the 
Antony. As long as the girl was pretty,- good- 
tempered and kind he did not trouble about the rest, 
and if she deceived him, provided it was done with a 
certain amount of cleverness, he put a good face 
upon the matter by being the first to laugh at it. 
In those days there was a favourite actress at the 
Vaudeville of the name of Pauline, with the most 
magnificent pair of black eyes I have ever seen in 
my life. Brunet was her manager and he managed 
to direct her away from the paths of virtue. About 
the same period, Scribe appeared upon the scene with 
a piece that ran for a hundred nights. Pauline took 
a fancy to him, which drove Brunet to despair at first, 
though he managed to resign himself to the fact 
afterwards. He made up for his misfortunes as a 
lover by his success as a manager. Pauline virtually 
Scribe to the theatre with silken bonds, and all 
would have i 11 but for the advent of a third 

thief in the shape of the handsome Dartois. That 
was more than Brunet could bear, and lie rushed to 
Scribe's house. 'My dear fellow,' lie exclaimed in a 
>air * we are being deceived.' That we 

'ed Scribe to such a; ; that he forgot his 


1 62 Si.vfy Years of Recollections 

own grief. The ////;-#/ had the effect of reconciling 
him to the pluralism of pretty Pauline. 

Things did not always work so smoothly, whether 
his inamoratas were faithful or not. When he was 
about forty, in addition to the casual and unimportant 
love-affairs which cropped up as frequently in his 
existence as they did in his pieces, in addition to these 
he had two serious liaisons which every now and then 
led to very comic predicaments. His two lady- 
loves were both married women, but separated from 
their husbands, consequently with all their time at 
their disposal, which fact militated against his own 
freedom. The mistress' freedom means the servitude 
of her admirer. At that particular period the whole 
of Paris was rushing to see ' Les Pilules du Diable.' 
As a matter of course, Scribe goes to see the piece, 
which does not strike him as very amusing. On his 
return at night, he finds the following little note, 
'Every one ; is talking of " Les Pilules du Diable," 
which I am longing to see. Take a box for to- 
morrow, I'll be with you at seven.' * Hum,' grunts 
Scribe, two doses of these pills in twenty-four hours 
is rather too much of a good thing. I suppose there 
is no help for it, so I had better get the box.' He 
swallows the second dose which he relishes even less 
than the first and gets home, not in the brightest 
of tempers. On his table lies a second note, couched 
as follows, ' My dear boy, they have worked me up to 
such a pitch about " Les Pilules du Diable," that I am 

Si.i'fy Years of Recollections 163 

positively dying to see it, especially with you. Will 
to-morrow night suit you ? of course it will. Take a 
box on the ground tier. I am looking forward to my 
evening with you as a great treat.' 

As usual, Scribe resigned himself to his fate, for 
with his kind disposition, his insuperable reluctance 
to distress people, but especially a woman, he had not 
the courage to break off his relations with either of 
them. The utmost he did was to slacken his chain 
by means of some stratagem. One of his two queens 
and charmers, the elder by priority or age, I do not 
know which, had exacted a promise that he should 
pay her a visit every day from five till six. In ex- 
acting this promise the lady had not been prompted 
altogether by affection, or at any rate, there was a 
good deal of calculation in that affection. She was 
anxious to have this daily call construed into a 
public recognition of her sway over Scribe. He 
faithfully kept the appointment, only two or three 
times a week, after a quarter of an hour or so of 
conversation, he took up his stand against the mantel- 
1 putting his arm behind his back, managed 
to put forward the hand of the clock; then turning 
mimd, he exclaimed: 'Six o'clock already, I must 
go! How quickly t in your company.' 

Goethe tells us that he transformed his love sorrows 

1 that his ;_;rief vanished, borne away on 

the uin.;s ..f his muse. Scribe avenged himself for 

the th'.usand and CUM liliputian bonds, 

164 Sixty Years of Recollections 

by converting them into two of his most delightful 
comedies, viz. : ' Les Malheurs d'un amant heureux/ 
and ' Une Chaine.' Finally though, when about fifty 
he became once more master of his own destiny by 
a bold stroke he got married. That denouement 
may be reckoned among one of the very best of all 
his comedies. First of all, like the skilful playwright 
he was, he prepared that denouement long beforehand. 
At the outset of his double liaison he had declared 
on his oath to both his mistresses, not once but a 
hundred times that, had they been free, he would 
have married them. Later on he swore to them that 
if they became widows he would marry them. ' The 
years are going by,' he said to them, ' I will wait for 
you until I am fifty. But let it be understood that 
at fifty, if you are not free, I will be.' Heaven alone 
could tell of the fervent supplications he addressed 
to it for the health and long life of those two hus- 
bands. Not his best friend inspired him with a 
similar solicitude for his wellbeing. Heaven granted 
his prayers, both husbands kept their health. He 
married as he had said he would, shortly after his 
fiftieth birthday, and three months after his marriage 
both husbands departed this life. ' Great heavens, 
can you imagine my position if that misfortune had 
happened three months earlier ? ' he exclaimed. ' How 
could I have possibly got out of the difficulty ? The 
very thought of it makes me shudder. After all/ he 
added, ' I could not have married them both.' 

Sixty Years of Recollections 165 

With his married life, Scribe entered upon the 
happiest period of an existence which had been happy 
throughout. His reputation was at its zenith and the 
full cup of unalloyed joy at his lips. * My dear fellow,' 
he often said, * up till now I only knew what pleasure 
meant, at present I know what happiness means.' 
His wife was comparatively young, barely thirty, 
good-looking, lively, kind-hearted and a woman of 
parts. Beranger, who knew her and whose songs she 
sang in a very talented manner, said of her that she 
was strong enough intellectually to govern an empire. 
Twelve years went by in that way without the faintest 
shadow on the picture, without a cloud in the sky. 
After that period when I happened to remind him one 
morning of the almost unheard-of and uninterrupted 
success and happiness of his life, he said to me in 
a sad tone : ' No one knows where the shoe pinches 
except he that wears it.' I dared not question him, 
but I noticed that from that day forward his imagina- 
tion was not as bright as it had been. When talking 
about the subject of a play, he invariably proposed 
painful and more or less bitter subjects. 'You have 
often asked me,' he said one day, ' to provide a sequel 
to our four brilliantly successful pieces. Well, I'll 
give you a title which is an i<le.i in itself.' ' I.i-t us 
hear tl ! aid ' L'Amour d'un Vieillard ' 

(The love-passion of an old man.) I could not help 
which he went on quickly. ' Wait a 
moment. 1 he said. ' I have no intention to write 

1 66 Sixty Years of Recollections 

another "Hernani" or "6cole des Vieillards." What 
I would like to portray is the sorrows of an old man 
who is being tenderly beloved. Do you follow my 
meaning, he said " tenderly beloved." ' ' Yes, yes, I 
understand ; it would be the companion picture to 
" Les Malheurs d'un amant heureux." But would 
the subject be interesting to the public ? ' ' Undoubt- 
edly it would, for it would be absolutely new, true 
and I might say, tragic. It would deal with a secret 
phase of human life which has up till now escaped 
observation, at any rate as far as the stage goes. 
We men may and often do love an ugly woman, a 
stupid woman, even a spiteful and bad-tempered 
woman, but never an old woman. On the other hand 
with women, and I say this in their praise, for it 
proves that their love proceeds from their souls more 
often than it does with us, the fame of a man, his 
talent, his heroism may blind them to his years. 
General Cavaignac was over fifty when in June (1848) 
he saved Paris from a revolution. That victory 
aroused the enthusiasm of several girls who fell in 
love with and wanted to marry him.' ' My dear 
friend,' I answered, ' to that instance I could add one 
much more striking and which bears absolutely on 
your subject. The old man of whom I want to tell you 
was over sixty and your title seems expressly made 
for him, so much did he suffer from loving and being 
beloved.' 'Who was that, I wonder? Beranger?' 
1 Yes, Beranger, it is evident that you do not know 

Sixty Years of Recollections 167 

the tiling that befell him at Tours.' * No, I do not 
know it.' ' Very well, let me tell you. Branger 
who had retired temporarily to Tours met with a 
young girl, an English girl, who became so deeply 
enamoured of him that she proposed to leave every- 
thing and to elope with him. What was the result? 
That he, Branger, the man who had sung " Frtillon " 
and " Lisette "- and who until then had known none 
but facile and evanescent love-adventures became 
deeply enamoured at the age of sixty-two, that he 
conceived a mad, intense passion which pierced his 
heart like an arrow, which fired his soul like a blaze. 
But he remained Branger, he knew that that girl had 
a father and mother whose joy and pride she was. 
He was not going to end up a long honourable exist- 
ence by committing an infamous act ; a man does 
not rid himself at will of three score of years of 
honesty and uprightness. He would have become an 
object of horror and disgust to himself, if, however 
madly in love, he had taken advantage of that young 
blind and unreasoning passion. By a tremend- 
ous effort of will he tore himself away from Tours 
awl hid himself in a small village near Paris, at 
Fontenay, like some poor, wounded animal which 
withdraws to the dense growth in the wood to let the 
blood from his wounds flow freely and then cleanses 
i in the limpid forest-brook. During a whole 
twelvemonth, mark what I tell you, during a whole 
twelvemonth, he lived there by him.sdf. withholding 

1 68 Sixty Years of Recollections 

his address from his dearest friends, disguising him- 
self by means of large blue spectacles in order to 
escape recognition and patiently awaiting there, while 
wandering through the woods, the end of his agony. 
He had the reward of his courage, at the end of the 
twelvemonth he went back into the world, if not 
absolutely cured, at any rate perfectly self-controlled.' 
I had got thus far with my story, when Scribe, who 
had been listening with intense emotion, turned very 
pale, and pressing his hands against one another, 
said all of a sudden in a scarcely audible voice, and 
with ill-suppressed sobs : ' My dear good friend, 
Be>anger's story is absolutely like mine.' * Like 
yours ? ' I exclaimed in amazement ' Yes, I also, at 
the age of sixty or more, have suddenly, and for the 
first time in my life felt that bewildering, maddening 
sensation which we call an intense passion. I also 
met, not with a young girl, but with a young woman, 
willing to throw everything to the winds for, to sacri- 
fice everything to, me. And like Be"ranger, I beheld, 
uprising before me, my advanced age, my life, all I 
have been, and all I have done. You have just said 
it, a man does not rid himself at will of an honourable 
and honest past. All' the pieces in which I have sung 
the praises and the holiness of the matrimonial tie, of 
the purity of home life, of love hallowed by reason, 
flung their weight upon me at once. Then, there was 
my wife, my dear wife whom I would have driven to 
despair. And there was something else besides. I 

Sixty Years of Recollections 1 69 

was thinking of my enemies, my enemies in the press 
who would have soon discovered the secret and con- 
verted it into a scandal. Did not they go as far to 
incriminate even my paternal affection for one of my 
nieces. When I came to reflect upon all this, my 
commonsense, my most deep-seated affections, my 
horror of having my name bruited about, gave me 
courage and a twelvemonth ago I broke off what as 
yet was not a bond. But heaven alone knows at the 
cost of how much suffering. One single fact will be 
sufficient to prove that to you. About a month ago 
I went back to society for the first time ; namely, to 
a grand ball at the Hotel-de-Ville. The first person 
I saw on entering the grand gallery was she, she 
radiant with beauty and animation, and waltzing 
round with a charming young fellow. One look at her 
sufficient. Jealousy sees more in one glance than 
a hundred pair of ordinary eyes. I understood, as if 
I had read it in an open book that, deserted by me 
she had, cither out of pique or from innate fickleness 
herself headlong into some other love-passion, 
young fellow with whom she was dancing was 
lover. I felt such a sharp pang at my heart 
that I sank back on the nearest couch, utterly undone 
and remained motionless for a quarter of an hour. 
When I rose to go, I found myself confronted with an 
unknown personage who was so pale and looked so 
le^pair. that I could not help sayii 
>r fellow, how much he must have 

1 70 Sixty Years of Recollections 

suffered. The poor fellow was no one but myself. I 
had passed in front of a looking glass and had failed 
to recognise my own face. In short, my dear friend, 
if you and I were to go out at this moment and if I 
were to run against her suddenly in the street, I feel 
that I should drop senseless on the pavement' 

This disclosure on Scribe's part had the effect of 
drawing me still closer to him, a wholly new man had 
been revealed to me. He had shown an intensity of 
passion the capacity for which I did not as much as 
suspect, a heroism of which I did not think him 

His energetic resistance met with its reward. In 
the course of time even the scar of his painful wound 
disappeared ; the last years of his life were years of 
happiness and by his sudden death, which struck us 
all like a thunderclap he was spared the sadness 
almost inseparable from moral and physical decline. 
Twenty-six years have gone by since that sorrowful 
March day in 1861, and at present when I look back 
upon him through the vista of the past he is to me 
what I feel convinced he will remain to posterity 
the most complete representative of French theatrical 
art in the nineteenth century. Some of his contem- 
poraries did, no doubt, surpass him in many phases 
of that art, but not one has possessed in the same 
degree, the two fundamental qualities of our national 
art, invention and the faculty of composition. No 
one created so many subjects for dramatic represen- 

Sixty Years of Recollections 171 

tations as he. No one proved himself master of so 
many different genres as he. No one knew as well as 
he, how to lay down the basis of a plot, to conduct it 
through its various windings, to tie and untie its 
knots. Here is a final and conclusive proof of his 
talent. In two of the genres he illustrated he was 
without a rival during his own lifetime and has had 
no successor since he died. Who since that death 
has written a beautiful libretto for an opera or a 
masterpiece in the way of a comic opera? I will not 
venture to call Scribe a man of genius, but he had 
certainly a remarkable genius for the drama, and 
withal so original that no literature has produced, I 
will not say his equal, but an author analogous to 
him. Scribe deserves to have applied to him the 
line of Michelet on Alexandre Dumas : ' He is one 
of Nature's forces.' 


Rachel. Why ' Adrienne Lecouvreur ' was written. Rachel changes her 
mind; the Piece declined by the Committee of the Comedie- 
Frangaise. The Race of Managers to get hold of the Play. M. 
Legouve's determination to impose the Play upon Rachel. His 
success. Rachel at Rehearsal. An evil foreboding. Rachel asks 
M. Legouve for another Piece. He writes it. The result. Rachel 
as a Dramatic Adviser. Rachel in her True Character. Her last 

As I have already said, * Adrienne Lecouvreur' 
had been written at the request of Mdlle. Rachel, I 
might say at her earnest entreaty. But the few 
months we spent in writing the piece, were spent by 
Mdlle. Rachel in taking a dislike to it. Fickle both 
by imagination and by temperament, her lack of 
firmness aggravated the defect. She consulted 
everybody, and anyone could influence her. The 
mere banter of a critic was enough to set her 
against an idea, which but five minutes before had 
delighted her, and the same thing happened in the 
case of ' Adrienne.' Her would-be advisers managed 
to frighten her about this projected excursion into 
the realms of drama. The idea of Hermione and 

ty Years of Recollections 173 

Pauline condescending to speak in prose, the daughter 
of Corneille and Racine becoming the godchild of 
M. Scribe seemed nothing less than sacrilege to them. 
Hence, on the day appointed for the reading of the 
piece, Mdlle. Rachel came to the meeting of the Com- 
mittee, fully resolved to decline the part. Everyone 
had made it a point to come. The actresses, who 
at that time were privileged to vote, mingled with 
the actors, and a certain ' Daniel-come-to-judgment ' 
air which pervaded the meeting, inspired me on en- 
tering with evil forebodings. Scribe took up the 
manuscript, and began to read. I ensconced myself 
in an armchair, and began to ' take stock.' In another 
moment or so two comedies were being unfolded 
before me, ours and the other; the latter a silent 
one, enacted in the hearts and minds of the socti- 
-v. Vaguely apprised of the secret intentions of 
their illustrious fellow-actress, they were virtually in 
a predicament. 

A play written for Mdlle. Rachel, and in which she 
no longer desired to act, might, if accepted by the 
Committee, i, is difficulties, nay to liti- 

gation. The Committee-, therefore, took their rue for 
the verdict on ' Adrienne' from Mdlle. Rachel's face ; 

:,ice remaining absolutely unmoved, theirs foil* 
suit. During those five long acts, she neither smiled. 
applauded, nor ^ ^n of approval ; they neither 

approved, a} >; led. The general a] 

so thorough, that Scribe, fancying that one of our 

174 S'.vty Years of Recollections 

judges was about to drop into a sound slumber 
stopped short and observed : 

1 Don't mind me, my dear fellow, I beg of you.' 
The socittaire in question protested most strongly 
against the soft impeachment, and that was the sole 
effect produced throughout. Stay, I am mistaken, 
there was another, or at any rate the beginning of 
one. In the last scene but one of the fifth act, Mdlle. 
Rachel, impressed by the situation in spite of herself, 
slightly leaned forward in her chair, in which up till 
then she had been apparently buried. She evidently 
thought it worth her while to be interested and to 
listen, but seeing that I noticed the movement she 
immediately collapsed, and resumed her stony look. 
When Scribe had finished reading, he and I passed 
into the room of the director, who in a few minutes 
joined us. In a tone of regret, which we accepted as 
sincere, he told us that Mdlle. Rachel failed to * fancy 
herself in the part we had written for her, and as 
the play had been written at her own and special re- 
quest the Committee would prefer to consider the 
reading as null and void. ' In other words,' said 
Scribe, 'our piece is rejected. Very well ! Every dog 
has his day.' 

Next morning three different managers called to 
ask us for our play. Scribe was fond of reprisals that 
looked like revenges, and considered that they should 
be inflicted, ' red hot ' ; he, therefore wanted to accept, 
but I objected. ' My dear friend,' said I to him, ' the 

Si.vty Years of Recollections \ ; 5 

piece was written for the The.atre-Frangais, and the 
Theatre-Fransais shall produce it. The part was 
written for Mdlle. Rachel, and Rachel shall play 

'But how will you make her do it?' 'That I do 
not know at present, but it must and shall be? In 
the course of our work to which you have contributed 
the lion's share, you were kind enough to tell me 
more than once, that I understand the part of 
Adrienne better than yourself. Indeed I may say 
that I have always discerned a new kind of stage 
character in that tragic actress, who has slowly been 
converted to the noble sentiments of the tragic 
heroines she represents, in that interpreter of Cor- 
neille, some of whose greatness has gradually been in- 

1 in her blood. Well, in my opinion that char- 
acter should not be played on any other stage but 
that devoted to the masterpieces of Corneillc.' 

The evident sincerity of my conviction had the 

t of convincing Scribe ; it was nevertheless a hard 
tussle. The aforementioned directors returned to the 
charge and with greater vigour ; one of these in order 
to force our hand, said : ' My leading lady has never 
had a chance yet to die on the stage, and would be 
delighted to die of poison.' This argument, hov. 
specious, failed to influence me, but six months 
having elapsed without a change in the position, 
Scribe declared that he would wait no longer. ' I will 
only ask you to wait for another week, 1 I .1 

1 76 Sixty Years of Recollections 

' You intended to spend six or seven days at Se"ri- 
court ; you had better go. If, on your return, I have 
made no progress, I'll give in.' ' I shall expect you 
to breakfast this day week at eleven,' he replied, and 
went away. 

Then I went to work. I called upon the new 
director who had meanwhile been appointed to the 
Theatre-Frangais, and made a little speech to him 
somewhat to the following effect : * You are no doubt 
aware of Mdlle. Rachel's refusal to play our piece. 
This refusal on her part may be a mistake or not, 
I will not discuss it. But I am certain of one thing, 
that she has undoubtedly done us a great wrong. It 
is not fair to return his play to a man like M. Scribe, 
after having asked him to write it. One does not 
offend an author who stands in the very front rank, 
in that manner, nor, if you will permit me to say so, a 
younger man, who does not altogether stand in the 
last. Mdlle. Rachel must be aware of all this, and a 
moment's reflection on her part will make her feel 
the justice of my remarks. A woman gifted as she 
is, cannot possibly be completely devoid of the sense 
of what is fit. Now there is one way of arranging the 
thing, both in her interests and in our own. I am 
not going to ask her to play our piece, but I want her 
to allow me to read it to her personally, and not at 
the theatre, with her comrades in attendance, but at 
her own house, and in the presence^of friends of her 
own. She may invite whomsoever she pleases, and 

Si.rty Years of Recollections 177 

as many or as few as she likes. I will come alone 
with the manuscript Should the play fail to please 
her and that new committee, I will withdraw and 
admit that I have had a fair hearing. If, on the 
other hand, it pleases her and them, she will play it 
and score a great success. She will look upon me 
for ever afterwards as her best friend.' 

The director transmitted my offer which was ac- 
cepted, though on that same evening Mdlle. Rachel 
was reported to have said to one of her female friends : 
4 1 cannot decline M. Legouv's offer, but I shall 
never play this . . . .' I refrain from writing down 
the word, which, though expressive to a degree, is 
altogether outside the classical repertory. An ap- 
pointment was made for the next day but one, the 
jury selected by the actress herself was composed of 
Jules Janin, Merle, Rolle, and the director of the 

On my arrival I no doubt felt somewhat nervous, but 

i iheless, thoroughly self-possessed, because I was 

of the justice of my cause, though prepared for 

My preparations were not formidable. 

Scribe was an admirable reader, and had rendered 

our dialogue in a marvellous manner before the 

Committee. He fell short, however, in one thin;.;. In 

my opinion the part of Adrienne had not been made 

sufficiently appropriate by the reader to Mdlle. Rachel. 

1 Ie had read the part with a great deal of spirit and 

, but he had read it as one reads the part of a 

178 Sixty Years of Recollections 

4 walking lady.' His delivery had been wanting in 
grandeur, and he had not sufficiently indicated the 
heroism smouldering in the woman. Now this was 
precisely the point by which one might hope to 
interest Mdlle. Rachel, to acclimatise her to this 
novel kind of stage-character. 

To her the enterprise was obviously fraught both 
with danger and difficulties, and we were bound to 
lessen as much as possible the former, and to smooth 
away the latter. We had to indicate to her in read- 
ing the part the best means of transition from one 
line of characters to another, and to convince her that 
what to the audience would appear something akin 
to a metamorphosis, would in reality be to her a 
mere change of costume. This appeared to me the 
point on which Scribe had not laid sufficient stress, 
and so for two days I took great pains to accentuate 
it and bring it into proper relief. I was welcomed in 
a charming manner, full of that 'soothing' grace 
which was as it were part of herself. She herself 
sweetened the glass of water I might want, she herself 
fetched me a chair, she herself drew back the curtains 
to give me a better light, I could not help remember- 
ing the famous phrase : ' I shall never act this . . . ' 
and I chuckled inwardly at this lavish display of 
amiability, the more so as I knew the cause of this 
pretty piece of acting. How, in fact, should I be able to 
accuse of ill-will and prejudice a listener so graciously 
disposed to listen. It is what in theatrical parlance 

Sixty Years of Recollections 1 79 

we call a 'led-up-to' effect. I begin reading. Dur- 
ing the whole of the first act, Mdlle. Rachel ap- 
plauded, approved, smiled, in short, did the very 
opposite of what she had done in the presence of the 
Committee. Why all that ? Echo answered Why, but 
I had no difficulty in fathoming her plan. She 
had learned her lesson to perfection. Her excuse 
would be, that the part did not suit her style. 
Seeing that Adrienne does not appear at all in 
the first act, Mdlle. Rachel was perfectly safe in 
praising it, nay, her very praise would lend an 
air of impartiality to her subsequent reserve, and 
a semblance of sincerity to the expression of re- 
gret which would accompany her refusal. But her 
very cleverness proved a big blunder, for the moment 
her friends perceived her satisfaction, they joined in 
it. They took to applauding without stint, and the 
reader encouraged by their applause grew more ani- 
mated. At the beginning of the second act I felt 
confident of having my audience in hand. I set 
every stitch of canvas, scudding before the breeze 
icccss, before that kind of electrical current so 
well known to all playwrights, and which takes all of 
a sudden possession of the house, the moment victory 
is declared. In tin- second act Adrienne makes her 
appearance, holding in her hand the part of Baj.; 
which si ; . The Prince de Bouillon t.i 

towards her, and says in a captivating 
tone : ' What are you in quest of now? ' to which she 

1 80 Sixty Years of Recollections 

replies : ' I am in quest of the truth.' At this re- 
partee Janin cried, ' Bravo !' * Oh, oh,' said I to myself, 
'here is at least one friend'; for after all the repartee- 
did not deserve such praise. Mdlle. Rachel had also 
turned towards Janin, as if to say : ' Has he turned 
traitor ? ' Luckily the traitor's opinion was soon shared 
by everyone present. Mdlle. Rachel, surprised and 
somewhat disconcerted at her inability to summon 
to her aid the indifference that had marked the first 
reading, slowly yielded, though still resisting, to the 
generally favourable impression. After this second 
act, warmly applauded by all, she said languidly : 
' I have always considered this act the prettiest.' 
This was her last attempt at resistance, for at the 
third act she bravely threw her former opinion 
overboard, precisely as some politicians do with 
the opinions they held but the day before. She 
applauded, laughed and wept in turns, adding now 
and then, ' What an idiot I was.' And after the fifth 
act, she flung herself into my arms, embraced me 
cordially and exclaimed : * Why did you not take to 
the stage?' 

The reader had saved the author. Of course I 
could not but feel flattered, seeing that some time 
previously after having heard M. Guizot speak in the 
chamber, she had exclaimed : * How I should like to 
play tragedy with that man ! ' Next day at the stroke 
of eleven I entered Scribe's room. ' Well,' he said 
with a mischievous look, ' what is the state of affairs ? ' 

Sixty Years of Recollections 1 8 1 

Instead of answering, I took from my pocket a 
paper and read aloud : ' Com&die-Franc^aise, this day 
at twelve o'clock, rehearsal of " Adrienne Lecouvreur.'" 
' What ! ' he shouted. Thereupon I told him every- 
thing, and next morning, the serious work of re- 
hearsing began. I learned a great deal from it. 
Every day at ten, I went to Mdlle. Rachel's either 
with Scribe or by myself if he happened to be pre- 
vented by the staging of ' Le Prophete,' and until half- 
past eleven we went through the act that was to be 
rehearsed at the theatre. The play was mounted in 
eight-and-twenty days, not one of which passed with- 
out this double rehearsal one in the morning, the 
other in the afternoon. It was during that time that 
I conceived my admiration for Mdlle. Rachel's 
perseverance, perspicuity, faculty of assimilation, 
modesty and good fellowship. Not an atom of the 
vanity so common to the great artist, not the smallest 
whim of the spoilt child of success ; she was entirely 
given up to her art, and sacrificed everything to her 
art. She listened to hints, discussed them, gave in 
the moment she was convinced, but not a moment 
before. Here is a striking proof. Those who have 
seen her Adrienne will recollect that one of her most 
telling effects of the fifth act was the cry of ' Ah 1 
Maurice,' when in the midst of her delirium she- 
lf ever there was a theatrical 
hat sounded like an inspiration of the moment, it 
that one. Well, it took Rachel three days, not 

1 82 ; Years of Recollections 

exactly to discover the real pitch of it, but to accept 
it. Scribe had given her the key ; she resisted Scribe, 
she resisted me. ' It sounds false ! ' she maintained 
obstinately, ' it sounds theatrical.' ' It sounds false 
because you spoil it in delivery,' replied Scribe, who 
could be very rough and tenacious on the battlefield, 
that is, during rehearsals. At last, after three days of 
miscarried attempts, the cry entered her very heart, 
and she reproduced it with admirable inaccuracy. I 
say inaccuracy, because on her lips this cry became 
sublime. That was one of her special gifts, you 
handed her a penny, and she transmuted it into a louis. 
Those rehearsals have left another recollection 
thoroughly characteristic of her. A few days before 
the first performance the theatre was closed for an 
evening rehearsal. Scribe was detained at the Opera 
and did not put in an appearance. The first four 
acts took us till eleven o'clock, then everybody left 
except Mdlle. Rachel, M. Regnier, M. Maillard and 
myself. All at once Mdlle. Rachel said to me, * We 
are kings of all we survey, suppose we were to try the 
fifth act which we have not yet rehearsed. I have 
been studying it by myself for the last three days and 
would like to see the effect.' We went on to the 
stage, the gas was turned off, consequently there were 
no foot-lights, there was nothing but the traditional 
small lamp by the side of the prompter's box shorn 
of its occupant ; the audience consisted of the fireman 
on duty, dozing away on a chair between the wings, 

Years of Recollections 183 

and myself in the stalls. At the first sound of her 
voice, I became deeply impressed by her delivery ; 
never had I seen her so true to nature, so simply yet 
so powerfully tragic. The light of the smoky little 
lamp cast livid shadows on her face and the emptiness 
of the house imparted a strange sound to her voice. 
It was mournful to a degree. When the act was 
finished, we went back to the green-room. As I 
was passing in front of a looking-glass, I was struck 
by the pallor of my face, and still more so by the 
looks of M. Regnier and M. Maillard who were 
equally pale. As to Mdlle. Rachel, she had seated 
herself away from us, and did not utter a word, every 
and then her frame shook, and she was still 
brushing the tears from her eyes. I went up to her 
and in the guise of praise pointed to the perturbed 
faces of her fellow actors. ' My dear Mademoiselle 
Rachel,' I said taking her hand, ' you played that fifth 
act as you will never play it again ! ' 'I think so too/ 
slu- replied, ' and do you know why ? ' 

' Yes ; because there was nobody there to applaud 
you, because you did not give a moment's thought to 
th effect, because for the time being you were poor 
Adrienne herself dying in the middle of the night in 
the arms of her two friends.' She remained silent for 
a moment, then said, 'You are altogether mistaken. 
A much stranger phenomenon took hold of my mind. 
I did not weep for AdnVnnr, I was \\vrping for myself. 
A nameless something told me all at once that I, like 

1 84 Sixty Years of Recollections 

Adrienne, should die young. I seemed to be in my 
own room breathing my last, I was watching my own 
deathbed. When I uttered the words : " Farewell 
ye triumphs of the stage : Farewell ! ye delights of 
the art I have loved so well," I was shedding real 
tears. It was because I was thinking with despair, 
that time would efface all traces of what was my 
talent once, and that soon there would remain nothing 
of her who was once Rachel ! ' 


The success of ' Adrienne ' had inspired Mdlle. 
Rachel with great confidence in me. She said openly 
that I had given her talent a new lease of life, by 
making her strike out a new line against her own in- 
clination. Our rehearsals had shown her that I was as 
capable of teaching her how to play a woman's part as 
of writing one, and she asked me to help her in taking 
yet another forward step. In Adrienne she had de- 
serted poetry for prose, the antique for the modern, 
the peplos and the chlamys for the brocaded gown ; 
she now wanted to play an absolutely modern part 
in a walking dress. She no longer wanted to be a 
heroine but a woman in society, in other words : 
' Mdlle. Rachel.' I proposed 'Louise de Lignerolles' to 
her. She had seen Mdlle. Mars in the part, and been 
deeply impressed ; but the thought of challenging 
comparison tempted her rather than frightened her. 
' Read your piece to me,' she said, ' and we'll see.' 

Sixty Years of Recollections 185 

I did read it to her, she played the part, and scored 
a triple success ; a success due to her talent, a success 
due to her beauty, and last, a success due to the 
elegance of her dresses. The last was all the more 
pleasing to her, seeing the treasury paid for it 
heaven alone knows, with what an outcry. Four 
dresses costing 1 500 francs the four the theatre was 
positively being ruined. Nowadays they would cost 
6000 francs and be paid for without a murmur, which 
would be the right thing. This second success still 
further strengthened the bonds between Mdlle. Rachel 
and myself. I was almost looked upon as a friend. 
She did me the honour to ask my advice about some 
of her other parts. One evening she read to me 
Emile Augier's drama ' Diana ' which she was then 
rehearsing and this reading of the play confirmed an 
opinion I had long held, namely, that there is a vast 
difference between reading and acting. An excellent 
reader might make but an indifferent comedian, and 
an excellent actor but an indifferent reader, the two 
arts differing almost entirely from one another. The 
actor represents only one character in a play, whereas 
the reader has to represent them all. The one has 
only the instrument of his voice to aid him, the other 
is assisted by his dress, h his bearing, and 

hi\ facial play, so much so that Mdlle. Rachel who 
played the touching par: me' with remarkable 

at, read tin- In an altogether ordinary 

way. Slu afforded me, furthermore, tin 

1 86 Sixty Years of Recollections 

pleasure of enacting before me and for me alone, 
with her sister Mdlle. Sarah Felix, the scene between 
Celimene and Arsince. 

It was a clever, incisive, effective reading, but 
wanting in youthful sparkle and gaiety. Youth 
and loveliness are indispensable to save the part 
of Celimene from becoming odious. When they had 
finished the scene, I laughed and told her that it 
was very nice, but that her Celimene was a woman 
of forty. Finally, one day, after a long discussion 
on women's parts on the stage, she asked me to 
write one expressly for her. ' If you will do this for 
me/ she added, smiling, ' I will write you a letter 
without a single mistake in the spelling.' In order to 
carry out this third attempt, I conceived the idea of 
a ,tragedy which should be both ancient and modern. 
Let me explain. During the last forty years, an- 
tiquity has, as it were, become a new world to us. 
Numberless critical, archaeological, historical, numis- 
matical and artistic studies have all of a sudden 
thrown a new light on the habits, beliefs, monuments, 
and labours of antiquity. The Greek drama has, as 
it were, been recalled to life by the researches of 
German scholars, and by the learned and ingenious 
work of M. Patin on the three great tragic writers. 
Fortified by these new revelations, I took up a sub- 
ject which had always attracted me by reason of 
its very mysteriousness, namely, Medea. I felt 
that the Greek poet had not said the last word on 

r Years of Recollections 187 

the subject. I saw that this mother's heart would 
bear still further probing, and that one might draw 
still more powerful effects from even the most beauti- 
ful scenes. One scene tempted me more than the rest ; 
I mean the description of Creusa's death. Medea, 
in token of submission, sends her sons to Creusa, 
with presents of rare beauty, namely, a crown of gold 
and a peplos of the finest workmanship. Euripides 
tells us in delightful verse the unfeigned joy of the 
young girl at the sight of those presents. ' She 
placed this crown on her head, she draped the peplos 
in tasteful folds on her bosom/ he says, * she dressed 
her hair before a bright mirror, smiling at her own 
reflection, then having risen from her throne she 
walked up and down her chamber with graceful steps, 
her feet encased in white sandals, and craning her 
neck to catch a glimpse of the back of her figure.' 

Suddenly, however, she changes colour, trembles 
violently from head to foot, and the poet in his ad- 
mirable narrative proceeds to show her to us in the 
act of tearing away the crown which sets her head 
on fire, and shrieking with agony as she falls swoon- 
ing into the arms of her old slave. 

What a ma t scene this would make, I said 

vsclf, if instead of being read, it were enacted; if, 
instead of sending them by her children, Medea herself 
were to take the ; , if, instead of an aged slave, 

Medea herself were to help Creusa apparel 1 in- her- 
self Medea on h< T knees, bowed down and 

1 88 Sixty Years of Recollections 

assuming the part of a servant, Medea watching her 
rival's every expression of artless delight, then all of 
a sudden bounding towards Creusa, already writhing 
with excruciating pain, and replying to her with 
savage glee : ' What does this mean ? It means 
that you must die ! ' 

What a splendid situation ! What a contrast to 
depict for an actress like Mdlle. Rachel. With my 
mind full of the idea, I set to work immediately, and 
wrote the scene in two days. When it was finished, 
the remaining incidents of the drama as it had pre- 
sented itself to my mind, gradually grouped them- 
selves around the scene, and after a twelvemonth's 
work, I took my play to Mdlle. Rachel. Her first 
glance at it boded me no good, she frowned at the 
very title, but this did not dishearten me knowing 
her as I did, and remembering her refusal to play 
Adrienne. Consequently, when I had finished read- 
ing, I said in an off-hand tone : ' Well ? ' ' Well,' she 
replied, ' I expected something more original, you 
must remember I have already played so many Greek 
parts.' ' But Medea is not a Greek in my drama, she 
is a Barbarian.' ' Another thing, I have never played 
the part of a mother.' 

' All the more reason why you should begin to do 
so. ' How do I know that I shall be able to express 
the feelings of a mother on the stage ? ' ' Your own 
motherly love ! Why should you not be able to ex- 
press that which you so intensely feel ? ' ' In the second 

y Years of Recollections 189 

and third acts I have come upon sudden transitions 
from fury to sobbing, I don't know how to do that 
kind of thing.' ' I do/ I laughed, 'and I'll teach you.' 
That was the way in which I managed to imbue her 
gradually with the idea of the character I had tried 
to sketch, that is, without deliberately contradicting 
her, by the alternate use of argument and persuasion, 
by constantly keeping in view both the receptive and 
non-receptive, the docile and refractory qualities of 
that rare intelligence, until, at last, she threw herself 
into the study of * Medee ' with the same passion she 
had shown in the cases of Adrienne and Louise. 

I shall never forget one of those days of study. I 
was expected at ten o'clock in the morning at the 
small villa she then rented at Auteuil. On my 
arrival I found her in the garden, gathering flowers, 
tying them into bouquets ; she was in a merry mood, 
laughing, as happy as a child, the very fact of living 
filled her with joy. ' I am pleased to see you,' she 

' we'll set to work with a will. I feel particularly 
well to-day. What a blessing it is to feel well. I have 
done with all the follies of youth, they are too dear at 
the price, and after all there is nothing compared to 
the joy of breathing the fivsh air, gladly, and without 

lint. I feel sure we shall get on capitally to- 
day.' I asked lu-r if she would like to 
scene between Medea and Crenel, the terrible scene 

.ill tided to. 
' If you lik cl, 'we had better begin at 

190 Si.vty Years of Recollections 

once.' However, after a few minutes of work and 
preliminary essay, during which she seemed uncertain 
of her powers and doubtful of her effects, she suddenly 

' My dear friend, do you know what we must do/ 
she said, c we must cut out that scene.' 

' Are you joking ? ' I replied, ' what, cut out the 
most powerful, the most novel, and the most effec- 
tive scene in the whole of the three acts as far as you 
are concerned ? ' * Never mind me and my effects ; 
let us look to the part and above all, to the play. It's 
my opinion that this scene kills the piece, because it 
kills the interest in it.' 

4 You cannot surely mean what you say,' I replied, 
' the interest positively converges towards this.' * Yes,' 
an interest of horror and sickening terror, but that is 
not what we want in the third act. Just reflect for a 
moment that I have to slay my children, and remain 
sympathetic all the while. I repeat " sympathetic," 
whilst killing them. How can I command sympa- 
thy five minutes after committing an atrocious deed, 
after murdering in cold blood, treacherously and 
foully ? The murder of Creusa on the stage, makes 
the murder of the children impossible ; the one drags 
down the other, and I become simply a wholesale 
murderess. I feel the loss of that scene as well as 
you do ; I am perfectly aware of what I could make 
of it, but afterwards, I would fail to believe in the 
reality of my tears.' 

Sixty Years of Recollections 191 

For a moment I looked at her without replying ; I 
confess I was amazed at seeing a woman of no 
education formulate instinctively and by sheer force 
of intellect, a most profound piece of criticism. 
Then I took her hand, and said : * You are quite 
right, I will cut out that scene/ 

' You are really delightful,' she exclaimed, throwing 
her arms round my neck. 

1 You will own, however,' I said laughing, * that it is 
vastly amusing to see me cut the very scene round 
which my piece was written.' 

\ -thing is more conducive to mutual confidence 
and suggestion, than such genuine and heartfelt colla- 
boration between two individuals. The communion of 
mind leads to the communion of hearts, and as a 
consequence the discussion that day gradually drifted 
from the tragedy to the tragedienne herself, from 
Medea to Mdlle. Rachel. Without the least premedi- 
tation she began to talk of her debuts, of the hopes 
she cherished when she was young, of her own life, 
until at last she confided to me a fact so curious and 
so much redounding to her honour, that I cannot re- 
thc pleasure of telling it We had been chatting 
about Polyeucte and Pauline. ' Ah,' she exclaimed, 
'Pauline's is the part I probably liked best, nay, 

Chipped most in my life.' She laid great Sf 
on the word worshipped. 

'The character has produced a strange sensation in 
me, whi people would credit You 

192 Si.vfy Years of Recollections 

ask me what it was ? I will tell you. You remember 
that after having created it with great success, I 
suddenly relinquished it ? ' ' I even remember the 
curious explanation given at the time,' I replied. 
' I know what you refer to/ she said laughing. 

* They wanted to make out that I was jealous of 
Beauvallet as Polyeucte. I, jealous of Beauvallet, 
a very likely thing indeed. The truth is, that I 
ceased to play Pauline for a while, out of respect for 
the character. You do not know what a strange 
creature I am. A fatal accident in my life brought 
me in contact with a man of low sentiments and 
ideas, but of powerful intellect, by which he soon 
gained such mastery over me, that while cursing it 
I submitted to it.' ' But why did you submit ? ' 

* Why indeed ? You men of intellect fancy you are 
lynx-eyed, and all the while you are simply so many 
moles when it comes to reading our hearts, the hearts 
of actresses who happen to be women at the same 
time. You simply see nothing at all ; true, we our- 
selves often see no more than that. Why did I sub- 
mit to a man I hated and despised ? Because he had 
a hold on me, because he had got hold of a secret 
which he used as a weapon against me, because he 
had persuaded me that he could further my theatri- 
cal career. To be frank with you, I am not quite sure 
that I did not look upon his perverse power over me 
as a proof of force. And yet, so intensely did I loathe 
him, that one night in the first act of " Maria Stuart " 

Sixty Years of Recollections 1 93 

I actually put a small pistol in my pocket, with the 
firm intention of shooting him in the stage-box in 
which he always showed himself conspicuously when- 
ever I played. What a sensation it would have 
caused ! ' Of course I smiled when I heard her utter 
this bit of theatrical bombast, and she went on : ' I 
understand, you think I am only acting a bit of 
comedy before you. Never mind,' she added with 
strange persistence, ' I wanted you to know this story 
and I want you to believe it, for it is the plain unvar- 
nished truth. I gave up the part of Pauline so sud- 
denly, because I felt unworthy of playing it, because 
there came a time when I hated myself so much that 
I felt I could no longer act so noble a character and 
utter the lofty sentiments placed on her lips. Those 
admirable lines burnt my tongue like fire, and I 
could speak them no longer, I really could not ! ' 

She spoke with such apparent truth, that her words 
made a profound impression upon me and I became 
serious. Then she went on in an attitude and voice 
til never forget: 'That all this sounds very im- 
probable, I know full well ; but what would you say 
if I laid bare my uh<U lu art to you? You have a 
great :i<>n for me, I believe? You all go into 

ecsta n you hear me declaim some great j> 

Well, let me tell you, there was once a Rachel within 
me ten times greater than the one you know. I 

that mi;.;ht 1 
been mine. I li roof of some talent, no 

1 94 Sixty Years of Recollections 

doubt, but I might have been a genius. Ah ! would 
that I had been differently brought up, that my sur- 
roundings had been different. If I had led a different 
life, what an artist I should have been. When I think 
of all this, I am torn by such regrets . . . .' Here 
she came to a sudden stop and covered her face with 
her hands for a minute or two, until I saw tears trick- 
ling through her fingers. I was very much astonished 
and asked myself how much truth there was in what 
I saw? Were these genuine tears, or had she the 
gift of producing them at will ? Was it her intention 
to deceive me, or did she deceive herself? Imagina- 
tion is so important a factor in shaping the actions of 
those high-strung creatures, that one never knows 
where the truth begins, and where it ends. What 
was the cause of her being so deeply moved ? Was 
it regret at a non-realised artistic ideal, or was she 
merely creating a part as she went on ? Did she 
want to impose upon me ? 

Mme. Talma has left it on record that her 
emotion in ' Iphigenie ' was caused not by the lines of 
Racine but by the sound of her own voice in deliver- 
ing them. Was Mdlle. Rachel's a similar instance? 
Did she feel moved at the sound of her own voice ? 
Had she a particular reason for selecting me as the 
depositary of her confessions, I who could hardly be 
termed a friend ? I was lost in speculation and ex- 
pected every moment to see her remove her hands 
from her face, laugh in mine at the sight of my 

Sixty Years of Recollections 195 

emotion and hear her say. 'That was well done, I 
see I have played my part well ' Nothing of the 
kind happened. She dried her tears and said 
quietly, ' Now you know me better than many others 
who fancy they know me intimately.' 

I went away deeply moved, astonished and de- 
lighted. This conversation seemed a happy augury 
to myself. Changeable as I knew her to be, I could 
hardly imagine that she would not keep faith with a 
man to whom she had confided so much. The noble 
character she had assumed before me for a moment 
would bind her more or less, if only for the pleasure 
it would afford her to appear in such a light. In 
short, I felt very hopeful. Three days later, however, 
I heard that Mdlle. Rachel was about to start for 
Russia, and thus put an end to the rehearsals of 
' Medee.' 

It was a severe shock ; a peculiar circumstance 

made the case more aggravating. There happened 

to be a vacant chair at the Academy and I had 

counted on this very ' Md6e ' as one of my best 

claii The departure of Mdlle. Rachel, then, 

dashed all my hopes to the ground ; still I was not 

She wrote to me that her journey 

would simply delay the production of our piece for 

months, and I pretended to believe her. We 

often confuse faithless folk by pretending t<> p] 

faith in them. It, as it v rCCfl their hand. 

hese three months of waiting, I cndcavoi; 

196 Sixty Years of Recollections 

to discover in that strange character itself the reason 
of that hope against hope, which might still remain in 
me. During those three months, I made some pro- 
found psychological studies indeed. I fancy the 
reader will feel some interest in this little voyage of 


Mdlle. Rachel had no doubt an excellent heart. 
No more affectionate daughter, no more loving sister, 
no more devoted mother than she. Dependents, 
inferiors, servants, the 'small fry' of the theatre, 
simply worshipped her. While in London, I saw her 
burst into tears on hearing of the death of a young 
Neapolitan Prince at the age of twenty-three, and she 
sobbed so violently, that her brother who was at the 
same time her manager, was afraid it might impair 
her voice for that night, and with the practical 
philosophy of the manager told her ' that we are all 
mortal.' But I also remember having caught her one 
day in her dressing-room dancing a sort of cancan in 
the costume of Virginia. ' Oh, Mademoiselle Rachel,' 
I exclaimed, ' and in that dress too, it really is too 
horrible.' ' That is just why it is charming, you 
great ninny,' she retorted, laughing. ' After all, my 
dear fellow, in my inmost heart I am a little mounte- 
bank.' This was true and not true ; she was a little 
mountebank and at the same time she was a Virginia. 
A tragic actress in virtue of her voice, intelligence 

Sixty Years of Recollections 197 

and gait, she was before everything an actress at heart 
and in her inmost soul. One day, after an aristo- 
cratic reception where she had assumed all the airs of 
a great lady, she felt the need of having her ' fling,' 
and there and then before some friends indulged in 
antics and gestures worthy of the veriest guttersnipe. 
That was the strange, characteristic mark of this 
multiple being. The incongruous was the acme of 
her delight. Blended with everything else, and ever 
floating to the top, there was the temperament of 
the jeering, flouting street-arab, speaking all kinds 
of languages and changing her vocabulary according 
to her interlocutor, delighting most in getting the 
laugh of folk, and catching them unaware. 

Poor M. Viennet had a specimen of this to his cost. 
M. Viennet was a man of parts and talent ; he was 
loyal to a fault, brusque to a degree that might 
be mistaken for good-nature, all his defects ag- 
gravated, by an amount of self-esteem, which was 
no doubt justified by his merits ; unfortunately his 
conceit and his merits pulled different ways. He 
a very successful, satirical poet, and considered 
himself a tragic writer of genius. One day, then, 
he made his appearance in Mdlle. Rachel's dressing- 

4 You probably do not know me, mademoiselle. 
I ,nn Yirnnet' 

'Oh, monsieur, 'lied in her most wheedling 

voice, 'who does not know .... Vicnn 

198 5/lr/x Years of Recollections 

* I have been told that you would like to create a 
new part.' 

' I am dying to do so.' 

' I have brought you a most admirable part.' 

4 There is no need to add the superlative.' 

* I want no compliments, and have no wish to sell 
you a pig in a poke. I do not ask you to enact my 
tragedy, but simply to let me read it to you. True, 
I am perfectly certain that when you have heard 
it . . . .' 

' And I feel equally sure.' 

* Then you are agreeable to my reading it ? ' 

'Am I agreeable, M. Viennet? I am only too 
pleased. Nay, if you will permit me to say so, too 
proud that you should have selected so humble an 
artist as myself to be your interpreter.' 

' Very well ; when shall it be then ? To-morrow ? ' 

' Yes, say to-morrow.' 

' At two o'clock ? ' 

' Yes, at two o'clock.' 

Thereupon Viennet departs triumphant, but trium- 
phant without surprise, calm, as becomes a man who 
has simply received the homage due to him. 

' She is really very nice and charming this young 
tragedienne,' he says to everyone he meets. ' A good 
deal of brain, taste, and tact. She is absolutely bent 
on playing my Roxane.' 

Next day he calls at the appointed hour. 

* Madame is not at home.' 

Si.i'fy Years of Recollections 199 

He calls again the next day. 

' Madame is not well.' 

On the third day he rings the bell in a perfect 
rage. Her man-servant opens the door. 

' Mademoiselle Rachel ? ' 

4 Will you please step in ! ' 

At last; thinks poor Viennet, as he is being shown 
into a small drawing-room, where an elegant young 
man with the ribbon of the Legion of Honour in his 
buttonhole, is already waiting. 

* Will monsieur give me his card,' says the man. 

' My name is sufficient Viennet.' 

' I will go and see if Madame is at home,' with which 
the man opens the door of a second room, and our poor 
poet overhears Mdlle. Rachel saying to the servant : 

' M. Viennet ! Tell him that I am sick of him.' 

The reader may fancy the fury of our poor poet, 
especially when the young fellow smiles. 'You would 
not think it a laughing matter, monsieur,' says 
Viennet, * if like myself you had come for the third 

'Oh, M. Viennet,' interrupts the young fellow, still 
smiling, 'that's a mere nothing compared to what she 
would do to you if you were her lo\ < 

The recollection of this incident was not calculate-'] 
to reassure me. Hut here is another story which 
me still greatet anxiety. 

In her >uiu; days Mdllc. Rachel had what 

mi-ht IK- called her p 1C period. I am alluding 

2OO T Years of Recollections 

to the time when the Faubourg St. Germain had taken 
her under its wings as the high Priestess of art. She 
was asked to 1'Abbaye-aux-Bois, to meet the Arch- 
bishop of Paris, so that he might hear her recite. 
Her spotless fame was like a sacred fire, around which 
some of the greatest ladies of France kept watch. 
One of these, by no means the least illustrious or the 
least clever, wishing to show her respect for the great 
artist before the world at large, took her in an open 
carriage in broad daylight for a drive to the Champs- 
Elyse"es, her own daughter sitting with her back to 
the horses. On their return from this drive, Mdlle. 
Rachel flung herself at the Duchess' feet, exclaiming 
in a voice broken by emotion and tears : ' Oh Madame, 
such a proof of esteem from you is more precious to 
me than all my talent.' The emotion of the actress 
was fully shared by the Duchess and her daughter, 
who both asked Rachel to rise, and embraced her. 
Shortly afterwards, Mdlle. Rachel takes leave. The 
grand drawing-room led into two smaller ones. 
Mdlle. Rachel crossed these latter two without having 
noticed that the Duchess' daughter had accompanied 
her as a mark of respect and sympathy. When she 
gets to the last door, Mdlle. Rachel opens it, turns 
round, and fancying herself quite alone, simply puts 
her finger to her nose and inflates her cheeks like 
Gavroche when he wishes to express his contempt for 
men and things in general. 

Unfortunately this last door had panels of looking- 

Si.vfy Years of Recollections 201 

glass which reflected the actress' movement, into the 
second drawing-room, where the Duchess' daughter 
was still lingering. She catches sight of Rachel and 
her expressive pantomime, rushes back to her mother 
and, choking with indignation, tells her what she has 
seen. She herself told me the story some time after- 
wards, and while telling it could scarcely suppress 
her emotion. I pointed out to her that she took the 
matter much too seriously, that Mdlle. Rachel was 
really not so ungrateful as she appeared, that she was 
neither indifferent to the Duchess' good opinion, nor 
failed to appreciate her kindness to herself. The 
matter was simply this, when she reached the door, 
the small mischievous imp that lives in her brain, 
popped out of its box and began to jeer at her real 

My philosophical leniency may have merely sprung 
from the wish to keep up my own courage, but 
later on this foresaid little imp, when I began to 
think of him, caused me much uneasiness, -and my 
forebodings proved correct. 

On her return from Russia, Mdlle. Rachel told me 
plainly that she had no intention of ever playing 
1 Medee.' I was furious and commenced an action 
against her which I won. She appealed and lost 
again. She was cast in six thousand francs damages 
which I divided between the Society of Drair. 
Authors Society of Authors. I then published 

my piece, and the rapid sale of several edition 

2O2 ty Years of Recollections 

abled my friends at the Academy to construe this 
into a valid claim to the vacant chair. I had my re- 
venge, but it was after all an unsatisfactory one, see- 
ing that the foremost condition of the success of a 
play is its representation on the stage. I still craved 
for further reparation, when the luckiest chance of 
my whole life, perhaps, brought me in contact with 
a tragic actress of genius, to wit, Adelaide Ristori. 

' Mede"e ' transformed into ' Medea' became for that 
grand interpreter the means of a veritable triumph, in 
which I had my share. My tragedy, taken by her to 
every capital in Europe, and even to America, trans- 
lated successively into Italian, English, German and 
Dutch, was enacted everywhere except on the stage 
for which it had been written. 

But the most surprising result of my success, was 
my reconciliation with Mdlle. Rachel. With one of 
her characteristic, generous impulses, she was the first 
to applaud my success, instead of being vexed at it. 
She was thankful to me for having taken up my own 
cudgels and avenged myself in that manner, even 
upon her. My step invested me with a certain 
grandeur in her eyes, and she was the first to hold 
out the hand of friendship under circumstances I shall 
never forget. She was at Cannet and dying. Pure 
chance brought me thither, and I immediately went 
to see her. I was told that her days were spent in 
those alternate periods of illusion and sombre clair- 
voyance which are the invariable symptoms of organic 

Years of Recollections 203 

diseases. ' For six hours a day I am full of hope, 
during the rest I am plunged in despair/ she kept 
on saying. Her terrible sufferings now and then 
became plastically manifest in attitudes replete with 
statuesque and noble grace, attitudes of which she 
was perfectly conscious, for your great dramatic 
artist never forgets his ego even amidst the most 
cruel bodily and mental suffering. He is actor and 
spectator in one.* However real his despair, he 
watches the rendering of it. Mdlle. Rachel felt that 
her poses as a young invalid were elegant to a 
degree ; she looked upon herself as a beautiful 
statue personifying ' Grief.' 

As she was too ill to see me when I called, she 
sent word that she was deeply affected by my visit, 
and would I call again. When I did return, her 
sister handed me a letter dictated by her. It was 
full of affectionate expressions of regard as well as of 
regret for the past, and ended with the following 
passage which affected me doubly : both by its proof 
of her confidence in me, and by the gleam of hope it 

1 A hicntdt, we shall meet again either here or in 
You are the author who most truthfully 
rays woman's nature. Promise me that you 
will write me a part for my re-appearam 

* Two or three hours before his death, Quin suddenly awoke to 
consciousness. ' I should like to be conscious to the very last, to see 
whether I look the correct reading of my character,' he said. 

2O4 .S/.r/r Years of Recollections 

Three days later, she was dead. Something of her 
remained behind. 

The reader will remember her heartrending sobs 
at the rehearsal of ' Adrienne,' her fear of dying 
young, and that sad phrase : ' Soon there will be 
nothing left of what was once Rachel.' 

She was mistaken, however, something does re- 
main of her, the halo round her name ! 

We link it almost naturally with that of another 
young and sublime artist, taken away like Rachel, in 
the prime of life. We speak in the same breath of 
Rachel and of Malibran. 


A Portrait-Gallery. Samuel Hahnemann, the Inventor of Homoepathy. 
How I became acquainted with him. Hahnemann and his Wife 
at my little Daughter's Bedside. A physical Portrait. His Direc- 
tions.' Throw Physic to the Dogs.' He predicts the Crisis to a 
Minute. He saves my Daughter's Life. The Paris Faculty of 
Medicine disgusted. A Doctor a la Moliere. It would have been 
better that this little girl should have died. The Origin of Hahne- 
mann's System. His Language. His religious Belief. The Sen- 
tence under my Daughter's Portrait. Madame Hahnemann. Her 
History. Her Faith in her Husband. Hahnemann's Dietary. His 
Death at eighty-three. Chretien Urhan. An ascetic Musician. 
His physical Portrait. How he reconciled his Religion with his 
Art. He gets a Dispensation from the Archbishop of Paris to 
play in the Orchestra of the Ope*ra. How he did play. A Vision 
and what came of it. His Visits to my Wife. A Lesson to a 
Lady of Title. His Reverence for the Composer's Idea. Ho in 
troduces Schubert to Frenchmen. Jean-Jacques Ampere. Jean. 
Jacques' Father. Absentmindedness of the- Father and Son. 
Ampere's personal Belongings. The Difference between the 
Father and Son intellectually. 


SAMUEL HAHNEMANN was one of the great revolu- 
tionaries of the nineteenth crntury. It was he who 
towards 1835 began a revolution in mcdiYal 

!i still lasts I am not discussing the system, 
I am simply 

An accident for which I could not be sufficiently 
ful brought me in contact with him at tin- 

206 .'y Years of Recollections 

moment when his reputation was fast changing into 
fame. I contributed, perhaps, something to this, and 
the story of the intimate friendship that sprang up 
between us may aid the reader in gaining an idea of 
that extraordinary and superior human being. 

My little daughter, then about four years old, lay 
dying ; our family physician, who was attached to the 

Hotel-Dieu, Dr R , had told one of our friends 

in the morning that her condition was hopeless. Her 
mother and I were watching perhaps for the last time 
by her bedside : Schoelcher and Goubaux were with 
us, and in the room was also a young man in evening 
dress, who three hours before was a stranger to us. 
His name was Amaury Duval and he was one of the 
most promising pupils of M. Ingres. 

We had wished to preserve at least a visible re- 
membrance of the dear, little creature we were al- 
ready bewailing as lost, and Amaury, at the urgent 
request of Schoelcher* had left a reception in 
order to paint that sad portrait. When the dear 
and charming fellow, who was only twenty-nine then, 
entered the room, deeply moved by our despair, 
neither we nor he suspected that a few hours later he 
should render us the greatest service anyone could 
render us, and that we should be indebted to him for 

* Victor Schoelcher, already mentioned ; one of the most magnificent 
types of the honest straightforward, incorruptible Republican. He was 
on the barricade with Baudin and Esquiros on the 3d December '51, 
when Baudin was killed. TR. 

.y Years of Recollections 207 

more than the image of our daughter, namely, for 
her life. 

He took up his position at the foot of the cot, the 
light of a lamp which had been placed on a high 
piece of furniture fell on the face of the child. Her 
eyes were already closed, the dishevelled hair was 
falling on her temples, the small face and hands were 
almost as white as the pillow on which her head re- 
clined, but childhood itself is invested with such 
charms, that her approaching death seemed to shed an 
additional grace on her features. Amaury spent the 
greater part of the night in making his sketch, the poor 
fellow furtively wiping his eyes now and then, lest his 
tears should drop on the paper. Towards morning 
his drawing was finished, and influenced by his own 
emotion, he had simply drawn a masterpiece. He 
just going, accompanied by our affectionate and 
heartfelt thanks when all of a sudden he stopped. 
' Look here,' he said, ' seeing that your doctor has 
declared the case to be hopeless, why not call to your 
aid that new system of medicine which is beginning 
to make so much noise in Paris, why not send for 
Hahnrinann.' 'He is right,' exclaimed Goubaux, 
' Hahm-inann is my neighbour, he lives in the Rue de 
Milan, opposite i! I do not know him, but that 

will make no din I am going to him and will 

\ him back with me.' When Goubaux got to 
Hahnemann's there were at 'y people in 

the waiting room. The servant explains that he 

Sixty Years of Recollections 

must wait for his turn. ' Don't talk about waiting,' 

shouts Goubaux. * My friend's daughter is dying ; 
the doctor must go back with me immediately.' ' But, 
monsieur,' protests the servant. ' Yes, I understand, 
I understand,' says Goubaux, * I came in last What 
does that matter. " The last shall be the first," says 
the Gospel.' Then turning to those around him, he 
adds, ' Is it not so, mesdames ? Am I not right in 
supposing that you will give me your turn,' and with- 
out waiting for an answer, he makes straight for the 
doctor's consulting room, opens the door and 
interrupts a consultation. ' Doctor,' he says to 
Hahnemann, ' I know I am acting in defiance of all 
regulations and conventionality, but you must put 
aside everything and come with me. I want to 
take you to a little girl of four who will surely die if 
you do not go to her ; you cannot let her die, can you ? ' 
And his irresistible fascination produces its usual 
effect ; an hour afterwards Hahnemann and his wife 
enter the sickroom accompanied by Goubaux. 

In spite of all my trouble and grief, in spite of my 
brain racking with pain for want of sleep, I could not 
help comparing the man who entered the room to one 
of the characters from the weird tales of Hoffmann. 
Short, but well-knitted and walking with a firm step, 
wrapt in a furcoat from nape to heel and leaning on 
a thick cane with golden knob, he walked at once to 
the bedside. He was close upon eighty then, with an 
admirable head of long and silky hair combed back- 

Sixty Years of Recollections 209 

wards and carefully arranged into a roll round the 
neck ; eyes, of a dark blue in the centre with an 
almost white ring round the pupil, a proud, command- 
ing mouth with protruding lower lip and aquiline 
nose. After having cast a first look at the child, he 
asked for particulars of her illness without taking his 
- off her for an instant. Then his cheeks flushed, 
the veins in his forehead stood out like whipcord and 
in an angry voice, he exclaimed, 'Fling all those 
drugs out of the window ; every vial and bottle that's 
there. Take the cot from this room, change the 
sheets and the pillows and give her as much water as 
she will drink. They have lighted a furnace in the 
poor child's body. We must first of all extinguish 
the fire. After that we'll see.' We timidly objected 
that this change of temperature and linen might 
prove very dangerous to her. ' What will prove 
fatal to her,' was the answer, * is this atmosphere and 
the drugs. Carry her into the drawing-room, I'll 
come back to-night. And above all, give her water, 
as much water as possible.' 

He came back that night, he came back next morn- 

and began to give her medicines of his own. He 

expressed no opinion as to the final issue, but merely 

said each time, ' We have gained another day.' On 

the tenth day the danger grcu all at once imminent. 

hi Id':, knees had almost become rigid with the 

chill of death. At eight o'clock at night he made 

e, and remained lor a quarter of an 

VOL. II o 

2 1 o * of Recollections 

hour. Apparently he was in a state of intense 
anxiety, and after having consulted with his wife, 
who always accompanied him, he handed us some 
medicine saying, ' Give her this, and be careful to note 
whether between now and one o'clock her pulse be- 
comes stronger.' At eleven o'clock I was holding my 
daughter's arm, when I fancied I felt a slight modifi- 
cation in the pulsation. I called my wife, I called 
Goubaux and Schoelcher. Let the reader picture to 
himself the four of us, looking at the watch, counting 
the beats of the pulse, not daring to affirm anything, 
fearing to rejoice until a few minutes had elapsed, 
when we absolutely flung ourselves into one another's 
arms, the pulse had 'gone up.' Towards midnight 
Chretien Urban * entered the room. After looking 
at the child, he drew to my side, saying with an air 
of profound conviction, ' My dear M. Legouve", your 
daughter is safe.' ' She is a trifle better,' I answered, 
scarcely knowing what I said, ' but as for her being out 
of danger, let alone on the way to recovery . . .' 'I 
tell you she is safe,' he insisted, then bending over 
the cot by which I was sitting alone, he kissed her 
on her forehead and went away. 

A week later, the patient was, in fact, on the road to 
recovery. This cure assumed the importance of an 
event in Paris, I might almost say that it created a 
scandal. I was not altogether unknown and people 

M. Legouve" has given a portrait of Chretien Urhan which will be 
found in the following pages. TR. 

.V/.r/r Years of Recollections 211 

freely used the words * miracle and resurrection.' The 
whole of the medical faculty showed itself intensely 

annoyed, poor Dr. R- was taken to task by all his 

colleagues; very animated discussions took place both 
in society and at the Faculty. One physician was 
not ashamed to say aloud in M. de Jouy's drawing- 
room : * I am very sorry this little girl did not die.' 
The majority of the doctors confined themselves to 
repeating the parrot cry : ' It's not the quack who 
has cured her, but nature ; he simply benefited by the 
allopathic treatment left to him by his predecessors. 
To all of which objections I simply made the same 
answer I still make : * What does it matter to me 
whether he was the cause or the means of saving her ? 
What does it matter to me whether she was saved at 
his hands or between his hands? Was she as good 
as dead when he entered my house ? Was she cured 
when he left it? I wish to know no more than that 
in order to be everlastingly grateful to him. Though 
I may prove faithless to his doctrine, I will not be 
faithless to his memory, and to me he will always 
remain one of the most potential men I ever met.' 

The very way in which he comvived his doctrine 

is in itself a portrait. Was it calculation, self-intr 

desi; .me that led to the conception, did he 

arrive at it by purely scientific research ? Not at all. 

tern sprang from his heart. A physician of 

the hi^he^t rank, numbering among his patients the 

.ul and wealthy in Germany, he claimed 

212 Sixty Years of Recollections 

one day the co-operation of one of his colleagues for 
his youngest child. The case was very serious and 
the most drastic treatment resorted to. All at once, 
after a terrible night of suffering on the part of the 
little one, Hahnemann, beside himself with pity and 
grief, exclaimed : ' No, it is not possible that God 
should have created those dear and innocent beings 
for us to inflict such tortures upon. No, a thousand 
times " No." I will not be the executioner of my 
children.' And aided by his profound knowledge of 
chemistry begotten from long study, he rushed as it 
were in quest of new remedies and built up a com- 
plete medical system of which his fatherly affection 
was virtually the foundation. Such was the man, and 
as he was then, he had always been. The powerful 
structure of his face, his square jaws, the almost in- 
cessant quiver of his nostrils, the constant twitching 
of the mouth, the corners of which had dropped from 
age, everything attested conviction, passion, power. 
His language was as original as his character and 
figure. One day I asked him why he always pre- 
scribed water even to people in good health. ' What 
is the use of crutches to people who have got sound 
legs, and wine is after all no better than crutches.' It 
is also from his lips that I heard that strange sentence 
which, taken in its absolute sense, is apt to puzzle one, 
but which, if properly understood goes to the very 
foundation of medical science : * There are no dis- 
eases, there are people who are ill.' His religious 

Si.i-fy Years of Recollections 213 

faith was as intense as his medical faith. I had two 
striking proofs of this. One spring day on entering 
his room, I said : ' Oh, monsieur, what a beautiful 
day.' * They are all beautiful days,' he replied in his 
calm and grave voice. Like Marc-Aurelitis he lived 
in the bosom of a harmonious universe. When my 
daughter was quite recovered, I showed him the 
charming drawing of Amaury Duval. He looked for 
a long while and with intense emotion at the picture 
of the dear little creature he had snatched, as it were, 
from the jaws of death, at the little creature, such as 
he had seen her for the first time when she was on the 
brink of the grave, then he asked me to give him 
a pen and he wrote at the bottom : 

4 God has blessed her and saved her. 


He simply looked upon himself as a minister who 
countersigns the orders of his master. 

1 1 is portrait would not be complete without that of 
his wife. She never left his side. In his consulting- 
room she sat at a small table close to his desk, work- 
ing like him and for him. She was present at all his 
consultations, whatever the sex of the patient, and the 
subject of the consultation. She took all the symptoms 
down in writing, gave her advice to her husband in 
nan and prepared all the medicine. She accom- 
panied him in the rare instances of his visiting a 
patient at his own home. But the most notable fact 
in connection with herself was that I lahnemann was 

14 y Years of Recollections 

the third old man to whom she had linked her ex- 
istence in that way. She had started with a painter, 
then passed on to an author and finished up with a 

Here is her history. When between five-and- 
twenty and thirty Mdlle. d'Hervilly (that was her 
maiden name), handsome, tall, elegant, with her 
fresh and youthful face set in a frame of fair 
curly hair, her small blue eyes as piercing as 
any black ones, links her fate to that of a cele- 
brated pupil of David. Without marrying the 
painter, she becomes wedded to his style of painting 
and might have signed more than one of his can- 
vasses, as later she signed the prescriptions of Hahne- 
mann. When M. L - died, she turned to poetry, 
represented in this instance by a poet who was 
seventy, for as she went, her taste for old men de- 
veloped. Fired by the communion with the poet, 
she took to writing short poems with the same ardour 
she had shown in painting historical pictures, and 
the poet having departed this life in the course of time, 
she became somewhat tired of septuagenarians, and 
married Hahnemann who was eighty. After that she 
became as great a revolutionary in medical science as 
she had been a classicist in literature and painting. 
One day when complaining to her of the dishonesty 
and want of loyalty of a servant whom we had been 
obliged to dismiss, she said: 'Whydidyou not tell 
me of this before ? We have remedies for that kind 

Sixty ) 'cars of Recollections 2 1 5 

of thing.' Let me hasten to add that, notwithstand- 
ing this ingenuous remark, she was gifted with a very 
remarkable intellect, and a touching skill as a sick 
nurse. No one better than she understood the art 
of alleviating the patient's suffering by numberless 
small contrivances. To the pious ardour of a sister 
of charity she added the ingenious delicacy of a well- 
bred woman of the world. Her solicitude for Hahne- 
mann was truly admirable. He died as it was fit he 
should die. Until his eighty-fourth year he was the 
most eloquent proof of the value of his doctrine. 
Not a single ailment, not a single lapse of memory 
or intellect. His way of living was simple, without 
the slightest affectation of rigorism. He never drank 
pure water or pure wine. A few spoonfuls of cham- 
pagne in a decanter of water was his sole beverage, 
and in the way of bread, he ate every day a small 
baba.* ' It's more tender and easy for my old teeth,' 
he said. In the summer when the evenings were fine, 
he returned on foot from the Arc de Triomphe, and 
stopped on his way home at Tortoni's to eat an ice. 
One morning, on getting up, he felt less well than 
usual. He took some medicine and said to his \\iie, 
' If this does not act, my is serious.' Next 

morning he felt weaker, and twenty-four hours later, 
he passed away without pain, and recommending his 
soul to God. 

His death affected me greatly, and few men have 

* A kind of sponge cake, sometimes soaked in rum or sherry.- ' 

216 .y Years of Recollections 

impressed me with the idea to the extent he did 
of being superior to their fellow-creatures. Then how 
did I come to abandon his doctrine? Purely from 
admiration of the man. It requires more than mere 
confidence to be a follower of homoeopathy, it wants 
faith. The theory of infinitesimal doses is so entirely 
opposed to commonsense that one must blindly 
believe in the man to be able to believe in the thing. 
With the disappearance of Hahnemann my worship 
fell with the object of my worship, and his successors 
seemed to me such an immeasurable distance behind 
him, that gradually and also owing to a new friend- 
ship I had contracted I returned to the medical 
creed of my forebears, in which I am likely to die. I 
owed, nevertheless, this tribute to Hahnemann, and 
my ex-voto will be all the more valuable, seing that it 
is offered by an apostate. 


During the first years of Louis-Philippe's reign 
there was seen on the Boulevards every evening 
about six, a short man, almost bent double, if not 
absolutely humpbacked, and wrapt in a long light blue 
coat. His head reclined on his chest, he was appar- 
ently lost in deep thought, his eyes were invariably 
turned towards the ground. His ashen-grey com- 
plexion, his long nose, like that of Pascal, his ascetic 
look which reminded one of a mediaeval monk, pro- 
voked the question on the part of those who saw him, 

Si.vfy Years of Recollections 217 

'Who is this man?' The surprise became greater 
still if they happened to see this cenobitical-looking 
individual stop at the angle of the Rue Marivaux and 
enter the doors of the Cafe" Anglais. But the surprise 
changed into stupor if in about an another hour they 
happened to see him emerge from the fashionable 
restaurant, cross the road in the direction of the Rue 
Le Peletier, disappear into the ' artists' entrance ' to the 
Academic Nationale de Musique (otherwise the Opera) 
and finally take his place among the musicians in the 
orchestra. Who was he ? He was, in fact, a kind of 
fourteenth century monk, pitchforked by accident 
into the Paris of the nineteenth century and into the 
: a. His name was Urhan, and his parents, as if 
foreseeing what he would be, had named him Chretien 

Chretien Urhan had two creeds. His soul was 
equally divided between faith and music. He never 
missed going to mass, strictly followed every penance 
of the Catholic Church, fasted every day until six 
o'clock, never tasted flesh, making his dinner of fish 
and milk at the Cafe" Anglais, and played the first 
violin at the Opera. What had induced him to 
occupy a desk there? Assuredly he had not done 
so without many in 1 violent struggles 

with his conscience. His mysticism f,>rl>ade him to 
co-operate in the interpretation of works put under 
the ban of the Church, to be an active performer in 
that amalgam of temptation and seduction, but on 

218 Years of Recollections 

the other hand, he believed nearly as much in Gluck, 
Mozart and Rossini as in God, and he not only 
worshipped religious music but dramatic music. To 
give up listening to and playing ' Orphe/ * La Ves- 
tale,' ' Guillaume Tell/ ' Les Huguenots,' etc., would 
have driven him to despair. What was he to do ? 
He got out of it by a dispensation and by a com- 
promise. The dispensation was granted to him by 
the Archbishop of Paris, who could not refrain from 
smiling when Urhan came to ask him for permission to 
play the violin at the Opera. The compromise was 
simply a matter between himself and his conscience. 
He promised himself to play with his back turned to 
the stage and he kept his pledge. The temptation of 
the eye was, at any rate, avoided in that way. He 
never allowed himself to glance at an artist, at a piece 
of scenery or a costume. The thing answered more 
or less in the concerted pieces when the whole of the 
orchestra was playing, but Urhan was first violin 
(leader), as such he alone accompanied certain pas 
of the ballet. These pas are as it were duos between 
the instrumentalist and the ballerina ; in a duo the 
executants should look at one another ; their looks 
are the only means of communion. Urhan did not 
trouble himself about that. At the beginning of the 
piece he took up his instrument as one takes up one's 
' beads/ and with his eyes closed he played the air 
of the ballet, conscientiously, religiously and with a 
great deal of expression, but without the least concern 

Si.vfy Years of Recollections 219 

for the ballerina. If she danced out of time, so much 
the worse for her. I verily believe that if she had 
slipped, Urban would have gone on till the end as 
if nothing had happened. 

Every one of his actions was stamped with the 

same originality. I have often been in the room 

when he called on my wife, whom he liked very much. 

He would sit down by the fire, remain for a quarter of 

an hour without uttering a \vord, then rise and say : 

4 Good-bye, dear Madame Legouve, I felt the need of 

seeing you.' One of his oldest friends, a lady to whom 

he was in the habit of writing very often, has shown 

me a letter of his in which the ordinary lines are 

suddenly replaced by a bar of music, after which he 

adds : ' Words failed to convey my idea, so I thought 

I had better tell you what I wanted in music.' 

Finally, he came to tell me one day how, while 

strolling in the Bois de Boulogne, he had heard a voice 

saying to him, ' Write this,' and how that voice had 

there and then sung an air to him, how he ' noted the 

air from that voice's dictation. Then handing me a 

: of music, he added: 'Here is the piece, but 

ig that it is not of my composing, I'll not assume 

; -edit of it, and will call it " Transcription. 11 ' And 

that, in fact, was the title under \\hich it appeared 

with a short explanatory preface to it. The oddest 

isiness though, was his constant 

aty to me t<> write an article for some paper on 

melody. ' Hut above all,' he said, 'do not in 

22o , Years of Recollections 

to point out its origin.' I felt in an awkward position. 
On the one hand, I did not wish to refuse him, lest I 
should vex him ; I did not wish to ridicule his version 
of the affair, lest I should hurt his feelings ; I did not 
wish to appear to believe in it, lest I should make 
myself look ridiculous. After cudgelling my brain 
for awhile, I managed to satisfy him and got out of 
the difficulty with flying colours. But only one 
Journal consented to print my miraculous story La 
rette de France. 

As a rule such eccentricities lend to laughter, but 
no one ever dreamt of laughing at Urhan. Few men 
of his time enjoyed greater consideration. The 
sincerity of his faith, the austerity of his life, his 
ardent charity (he gave away all he earned) com- 
manded the respect and admiration of everyone. 
People instinctively felt that he was what they 
honour most and justly, a sterling individuality. His 
dignity as an artist had become proverbial. This 
dignity did not only spring from his self-respect, but 
from a reverence for his art. I can quote a striking 
proof of it. The Marquis de Prault, a very intelligent 
amateur of music, had organised a series of matinees 
of chamber music at his mansion in the Faubourg St 
Honore and had confided their direction to Urhan, 
who at the same time played the first violin. On one 
occasion a young duchess (the Marquis' matinees had 
become the fashion, society was delighted to air its 
real or assumed appreciation of high-class music), a 

.SY.r/r Years of Recollections 22\ 

young duchess, elegant and handsome, enters the 
room in the middle of a piece, and after causing the 
little flutter of excitement she was probably bent 
upon causing by her late arrival, sits down and en- 
gages in small talk with the lady next to her. 
Urban gives a sharp rap on his desk, stops the 
quartet, puts his bow under his arm, looks vaguely 
around him until the noise has ceased and when 
silence reigns once more gravely recommences the 
piece da capo. I pledge you my word that from that 
day forward no one ever made a noise at the matinees 
of the Marquis de Prault. At the termination of the 
performance I went up to him and congratulated him 
on what he had done. ' I will never allow anyone to 
show a want of respect in my presence, to a master- 
/ he replied calmly. He had not felt hurt on 
his own account, but on that of Beethoven. 

As a^ virtuoso, Urhan only occupied a secondary 
rank. There were a dozen more skilful violinists 
than he in Paris, but he made up for his relative in- 
rity as an executant by a gift as rare as it is 
[oils, he had an individual style. Urhan's style 
due to his profound knowledge of all the great 
masters, also to his religious and unbending respect 
heir works. He would no more permit any at- 
tempt at altering their character in their execution, 
than he would permit their perf'Tn: 

Habeneck himself Qftefl had a hard tussle with him 
on the sub; ially in the organisation of the 

y Years of Recollections 

concerts of the Conservatoire in which he (Urhan) had 
proved himself one of the foremost and most useful 
of auxiliaries. Any attempt of Habeneck to curtail 
words or to suppress a few instruments in the render- 
ing of a symphony met with the most determined 
protest and opposition from Urhan, and on one occa- 
sion when the double bass parts had been eliminated 
from the Choral Symphony, Urhan drew attention to 
the sacrilege in an article and signed it. 

Urhan had a still more individual merit. As a rule 
the admirers of the past have a contempt for the 
present. Their admiration of the old masters becomes 
complicated in virtue of their contempt for the new. 
Their cult is a jealous, narrow, exclusive cult. They 
build for themselves a kind of small Olympus whence 
they do not emerge, and the entrance to which they 
strenuously defend. Urhan's love of the old masters 
was only equalled by his passionate admiration for 
the masters of our time, and even of those of ' to- 
morrow.' Urhan was as it were a musical sleuth- 
hound, and he also brought the apostle's zeal to bear 
upon this. It was he who introduced Schubert to 
Frenchmen. Schubert is somewhat shelved to-day, 
nevertheless, he caused a musical revolution among 
us. He showed us that one might and could write 
masterpieces of one page. To a certain extent, and 
from a particular point of view, one might call him 
the La Fontaine of music, because he crams as much 
science, as much art, as much pathos and as much 

Sixty Years of Recollections 223 

thought into a few bars as La Fontaine did into a 
few verses. Before Schubert, the great dramatic com- 
posers, Mozart, Gliick, Rossini, Auber, Harold, HaleVy 
and others considered it incompatible with their art 
to write short compositions, the writing of which they 
left to the composers of songs. Schubert has killed 
the ' romance ' and created the ' melody/ in which 
branch of musical art Weber, Gounod, Massenet, 
Delibes, Paladilhe have since th'en ' created ' a whole 
series of short but delightful masterpieces. 

Well, it was Urhan who introduced the first lied of 
Schubert to Frenchmen ; it was Urhan who, with 
matchless energy and perseverance, found a trans- 
lator, a publisher, and finally a public for him. 
Finally, and as a finishing touch to this portrait, 
when Liszt conceived the idea of organising the 
concerts at the Salle Erhard (Erard), in order to 
secure as brilliant an execution for the sonatas, duos 
and trios of Beethoven as had been given to sym- 
phonies, he selected Batta as his 'cellist, and Urhan 
as his violinist. \Ve shall not meet with the like of 
t'rhan as a musician again. He belonged to the race 
of mystical artists of the Middle Ages. Whenever I 
watched him caressing his instrument at the Opera, 
: like looking at a picture of Fra Beato Angelico 
painting in his cell. One might well apply to him the 
much-abused term, 'the heaven of art,' because to 
him art and heaven meant the self-same thing. 

JJ4 5tVr Ydirs of Recollections 


I met Jean-Jacques Ampere for the first time while 
I was a candidate for a vacant chair at the Academie- 
Fr;ingaise. At seven o'clock when we sat down, quite 
by accident, next to one another at the hospitable 
board of the Comte de Belle- Isle, one of the most 
delightful dilettante I have known, we were strangers ; 
at nine o'clock, there had sprung up a bond between 
us. We had, at any rate, one point in common, 
he was the son of a man of genius; I was the son 
of a man of talent, and we had both been brought 
up in the worship of our respective fathers, and with 
the happy burden of an honourable name to sustain. 
In addition to this, my multifarious tastes responded 
to his multifarious gifts. From the first moment I 
felt amazed at the fertility and spontaneity of that 
imagination. Since then, I have known him most 
intimately ; I was sincerely attached to him, and in 
order to define his character accurately I have been 
compelled to invoke the names of the most brilliant 
and illustrious in legend and history preserving, of 
course, all due proportion in my comparisons. One 
thing is, however, certain : the most insatiable con- 
querors never pursued their conquests with the feverish 
passion of J. J. Ampere in quest of a masterpiece, a 
monument or a discovery* What was his specialty ? 

* Jean-Jacques Ampere, the son of the eminent savant J. C. Ampere 
whose name is best known in connection with the first experiments in 
electric telegraphy in France. Jean-Jacques' is familiar to all students 
of French literature. TR. 

Sixty Years of Recollections 22$ 

Well, his specialty was everything. Poetry, the 
drama, archaeology, history, criticism, everything 
attracted him, and nothing seemed sufficient. After 
the dead languages, the modern ; after the modern, 
hieroglyphics, after the study of books, the study of 
countries, after the study of countries, the study of 
men. At twenty he went to live for three months near 
Goethe in order to gain an accurate knowledge of the 
high-priest of contemporary poetry. He was not a 
traveller, simply an inhabitant of every country on 
the face of the earth. He was just as much at home 
in Rome, in London, in Heidelberg as in Paris. 
Added to this, a thorough man of the world and 
conversant with the usages of the best society every- 
where, for he had been welcomed in every intellectual 
and artistic set in Europe. He knew all their under- 
currents, all the little foibles and hobbies of the men 
and women of which these sets were composed. This 
familiar knowledge, together with his immense and 
universal scholarship made him the most extraor- 
dinar '. have ever met with. From one end 

of Kurope to the other, people said 'the charming 


That adjective greatly annoyed M. de R^musat to 
whom it was also frequently applied. He was i 

tin \\onl implies something superficial, artificial, 

.vhich no more suffices to paint the character 

Of Am:* r than that of the author of ' Alu-lanl. 1 

Ampere's soul was to the full as richly endowed as 
VOL. II i' 

S of Recollections 

his mind. The generosity of his feelings was only 
equalled by the tenderness of his affection. But he 
could be contemptuously indignant as well. An 
ardent advocate of liberty like his master and friend 
M. de Tocqueville, the Coup d'Etat drove him to a 
state of veritable fury. For thirteen long years he 
never ceased to launch his invectives both written 
and spoken, in prose as in verse, against the new 
empire, and more than once he was within an ace of 
being seriously compromised. Two love - passions 
equally odd, filled the whole of his existence. At 
twenty he fell madly in love with a woman of forty ; 
at sixty he conceived an ardent affection for a girl of 
twenty. Both passions were the more durable inas- 
much as neither was shared, and only ceased with the 
death of the object of it. Odd to relate, for every- 
thing in connection with him is odd, that heart, al- 
ways in bondage was the companion of a character 
stubbornly and savagely independent. The slightest 
restraint was odious to him, he would be slave to 
nothing. He never had a home, he rented a room, no 
matter where, by the month or by the day as fancy 
dictated. He never bought any furniture ; all his 
earthly possessions in that way consisted of a trunk 
if that can be called furniture in which he stored his 
manuscripts, books, toilet requisites and clothes. The 
latter, to tell the truth, did not take up much room. 
He never had more than one coat ; when it was worn 
out, a fact of which he himself was never conscious, a 

.SY.r/r Years of Recollections 227 

lady of his acquaintance replaced it by another, of 
which substitution he was equally unconscious. I 
said just now that he would be slave to nothing: I 
was mistaken. He was slave to his manuscripts. 
One day when wo were both going to Gurcy, the 
country seat of Mme. de Haussonville, he came to the 
station, wearing round his waist a belt, to which was 
attached a bag containing his papers and to which he 
seemed to be rivetted, looking not unlike a convict. 
He could not help laughing at himself. 

Those precautions sprang from his fear of his own 
forgetfulness and absent-mindedness, and the apprehen- 
sion was not unfounded. He was the true son of his 
father, whose absent-mindedness had become legend- 
ary with the pupils of the 6cole Polytechnique and the 
instances of which were handed down from generation 
to generation. M. Ampere wiping his face with the 
cloth intended to wipe the black board, and turn- 
ing to his pupils with his face a mass of chalk ; M. 
Ampere beginning to work out a problem on the 
back of a cab which happened to be standing still at 
the moment and running after his diagrams when the 
vehicle started ; M. Ampere leaving his little girl for 
a whole day in a waiting-room ; M. Ampere entering 
his drawing-room in full dress, j uevious to going to tin- 
Academy, coat, waistcoat, cocked hat, sword, in short, 
LVC the must indispensable article of 
\\V11, his son was worthy of him. One day at 
Mine. C- here he spent the last years of his 

228 SLi'fy Years of Recollections 

life, surrounded by watchful care for his every comfort, 
he entered the dining-room in a distracted state, just 
as they were sitting down to table. ' I can't make it 
out,' he said, * I don't know what I have done with the 
key of my room. I have looked for it everywhere and 
cannot find it.' ' Ask the servant.' ' I have asked ; 
he has not got it.' 4 Where can you have left it ? '- 
' That's what I can't make out. I have looked every- 
where, in the drawers, in the wardrobe, in my little 
cupboard, I can't find it anywhere.' * Did you say 
you had looked in the chest of drawers ? ' asked the 
sprightly hostess. * Yes.' ' In the chest of drawers 
in your room ? ' ' Yes.' ' Then you did get into your 
room.' ' Of course I got into my room, seeing that I 
am telling you that I looked everywhere.' ' But how 
did you get into your room ? ' * Parbleau, with my 
. . . True,' he exclaimed, * I got in with my key. 
That is really too funny, it must have been in the 
lock, and it is there still.' There is no need to 
describe the laughter which hailed the last words. 

Unlike his father, his absent-mindedness never in- 
terfered with his affections, which neither distance, 
time, nor place, could diminish, let alone efface. One 
day while at Rome, near the first woman he wor- 
shipped I am alluding to Mme. Recamier a letter 
reaches him from his father, claiming his immediate 
return to Lyons, where the elder Ampere happened 
to be at that time, a letter couched in the most affec- 
tionate terms. He tears himself away from the 

Sixty Years of Recollections 229 

woman he loves, and arrives in Lyons, his heart al- 
most breaking. He is welcomed with open arms, 
next morning at breakfast his father takes his seat, 
evidently lost in thought and without uttering a 

i. Suddenly he looks up and says, 'Jean- 
Jacques/ (he had named his son Jean-Jacques in re- 
membrance of Rousseau), 'Jean-Jacques, it is very 
odd, but I fancied that the sight of you would give 

;reater joy than it has done.' 

Those very comical and artlessly cruel words would 
never have been uttered by the Ampere with whom 
I am dealing. 

In fact, no two men could have been more like and 
at the same time more unlike than that father and 
that son. Those two superior intellects had two 
characteristics in common, fertility of invention and 
the faculty of initiative. But the moment they are at 
work, the bifurcation commences. While the father, 
confining himself strictly to science, evolves from his 
concentration on one point two or three immortal 
discoveries, the son like a river which has broken its 
dams, expands his genius over a hundred different 
works. Are we to regret this? No. In circum- 

)ing hi>. .sphere of action he might, perhaps, have 
produced a more enduring work, but he would not 
have been himself, namely, that multiple being, 

;ed with electricity and emitting sparks at every 
shock. His works are merely ' works. 

de la I.itUT.itureau Trei/ieine Sifccle,' his 

230 Sixty Years of Recollections 

1 Histoire Romaine a Rome,' his archaeological studies 
are more or less forgotten, because there have been so 
many imitations of them. The domain of thought is 
like America, there are two classes of labourers there, 
the pioneers who make their way into the backwoods, 
clear the land, carry light and life where there was 
nought but solitude before them, and the architects, 
the builders who raise houses and monuments and 
virtually efface the trace of the labours that served as 
the foundations of theirs. Ampere was a pioneer. 
He was more than that. He deserved a better title, 
which was given to him finally by a very eloquent 
voice. On the day of his funeral, the scholarly and 
brilliant M. Haureau suddenly felt some one grasp his 
arm. It was a man of about forty, who in a tone of 
deep, intense conviction said to him, ' Monsieur, he 
whom we have just consigned to his last resting-place 
was a great citizen.' The man who spoke thus was 


The Portrait-Gallery continued. Two Dramatic Counsellors. What 
constitutes a Dramatic Counsellor ? Germain Delavigne. A 
Trio of Sucking Playwrights. Scribe and the two Delavignes at 
work. Their Thursday's Dinners. An Exchange of Subjects. A 
Witticism of Louis Philippe. M. MaheYault. Dramatic Coun- 
sellor and Art Collector. M. MaheVault's one Client. M. Maher- 
ault's Father. The Origin of the Comedie-Fransaise of To-day. 
The Actors of the old Comedie-Francaise during the Reign of 
Terror. The Difficulties of constituting the Comedie-Francaise. 
Council's Opinion. The Way it is Received. Virgil's Timidity. 
A IVench Counterpart of Sir Fretful Plagiary. Scribe's Way of 
accepting Advice. An Anecdote of Gouvion Saint-Cyr. How the 
Abbe' was introduced into 'Adrienne Lecouvreur.' Maherault's 
Passion for the Drama. Mahdrault as an Art Collector. The Sale 
of his Collection.' If after Death the Shades can feel.' 


OF .ill the productions of the brain, dramatic works 

the mo ptiblc of improvement by sug- 

u from the outside. And yet young authors 

are often told not to depend upon the advice of others. 

'Above all, try to be yourself,' repeats the would-be 

critic. 'Avoid your originality, your individuality 

being tampered with.' To all of which I reply by 

pointing to Moliere who not only consulted his 

mt, but the Prince de Conde besides. When 

iSY.r/r YAWS of Recollections 

the first three acts of 'TartufTe' were finished, Molicre 
read them to the Prince. ' Your piece wants an 
additional scene, Moliere.' ' What kind of one, 
Prince?' 'People will be sure to accuse you of 
scoffing at religion, anticipate their criticism by 
marking the difference between real and sham piety.' 
Result : the admirable lines, beginning with 

'11 est de faux devots ainsi que de faux braves.' 

It seems to me that what has been useful to 
Moliere cannot be altogether useless to others. 
Besides, there are facts, which in themselves settle 
the question. In the poem, the novel, the historical 
or moral work the author appeals directly to the 
reader. When he has written ' The End ' at the 
bottom of his manuscript his work is virtually finished. 
When the playwright has penned the same word he 
is only half-way. A book is a self-dependent work, 
not so a play. It has virtually two births : at the 
first, the author may lay claim to the ' sole paternity,' 
but at the second, when it leaves the swaddling 
clothes of manuscript to make its appearance on 
the stage, the intermediaries between it and the 
public are numberless. The licenser of plays and 
his readers, the managers, the actors, the spectators 
at the dress rehearsals are so many counsellors with 
whom the author discusses, against whom he defends, 
at whose suggestions he demolishes, certain parts and 
reconstructs other parts of his work. We have but 

.y Years of Recollections 233 

to ask the most skilful playwrights and they will tell 
us how much they owe to advice from the outside. 

Unfortunately the efficient dramatic adviser is rare 
indeed. Neither natural brilliancy, nor a cultivated 
intellect is sufficient to fit him for the post. I have 
known men of sterling intellectual merit, remarkable 
writers whose opinion on a book was equivalent to a 
verdict and who at the hearing of a piece emitted 
opinions altogether valueless. On the other hand, I 
have known men of the world with little or no know- 
ledge of literature whose impressions of a play were 
infallible as a test of its worth with regard to the 
public. And why ? Because the judgment of a play 
requires before even-thing, a great deal of intuition, 
instinct, I might say, the gift of divination. When 
a piece is read to you, you have not to appreciate it 
as it is, but as it will be. The stage will altogether 
transform it, hence in listening to it, your mind's eye 
must see it beforehand as it will be on the stage, you 
must foresee or guess what that perspective of the 
is likely to add to or take away from it ; you 
must, by a kind of foreknowledge, enter into the pre- 
judices, take count of the susceptibilities of that 
highly strung and many-sided collective being we call 
the public. This or that phrase which passes un- 
noticed before three or four list< nines, all at 
once, in a large play-house, enormous: proportions. In 
some ca i matter of latitude; a play 
that Is in one quarter may be a failure in 

:v Yt-tjrs of Recollections 

another. This should certainly be considered. Then 
there is the interpretation, the surrounding circum- 
stances, and the fickleness in judgment. Hoffmann, 
the erstwhile and clever writer of the Journal des 
Dt ( bats meets a friend a few hours before the first per- 
formance of his play; ' Les Rendez-vous Bourgeois.' 
1 1 want you to come with me to-night to see a piece 
which will be hissed . . . three hundred times in suc- 
cession.' The true dramatic counsellor detects even 
the possible success behind the initial failure. 

It has been my good fortune to know two such 
eminent dramatic counsellors. The first bears a name 
rendered illustrious by someone else, but to the lustre 
of which he has largely contributed : I am alluding 
to Germain Delavigne. 

Truly an amiable and original character if ever 
there was one, this Germain Delavigne He has put 
his name to a great many comedies, in none did his 
name figure by itself on the title page. He was 
incapable of writing a piece without a collaborates, 
not because his intellect was barren, for I have rarely 
known a more fertile, a more subtle, a more versatile, 
but because his dearly prized indolence prevented him 
from accomplishing by himself the hard travail of 
bringing forth a dramatic child. No one was less like 
the lark of La Fontaine. 

Elle batit un nid, pond, couve et fait dclore 
A la hate ; le tout alia dti mieux qu Ml put.' 

He did not mind building a nest, provided someone 

< of Recollections 235 

else would put the egg into it. He did not mind lay- 
ing the egg, provided someone else would incubate 
it He did not mind incubating it provided someone 
would hatch But above all, no hurry-scurry. He 
was utterly incapable of hurrying over anything. 
His imagination was not the hoyden, skipping and 
hopping about ; it was the demure little fairy, quietly 
active, doing a great deal of business with very little 

His brother and he had been schoolfellows of 
Scribe. As soon as *they were emancipated from 
bondage, they met every Thursday, and when the 
dessert was on the table, communicated to one another 
their plans with regard to work. Casimir submitted 
the sketch of a tragedy, Scribe the idea of a vaude- 
ville, Germain submitted nothing at all. He simply 
brought to the common fund his exquisite taste and 
his inventive faculties, which he applied in modifying 
and improving the work of the other two. With his 
kindly, ruddy and placid face, his bright and clever 
smile, he enacted the part Chapelle filled at the 
suppers at Auteuil, or rather between his two over- 

companions, always 'pregnant with somctl 

nacted, as it were, the deputy-father, suggesting 

an idea to the one in want of an idea, an epigram to 

the other who asked for an epigram, a bit of advice 

\\hen then- was need of a bit of advice ; in short, he 

their disposal the fruit of his vast reading. 

'I am going to look through Germain.' said Ca-imir, 

236 Sixty Years of Recollections 

when in want of a piece of historical, anecdotal or 
artistic information, and the living book immediately 
replied, falling open of its own accord at the exact 
place wanted. The contrast in the character of the 
three companions was shown in their habits when at 
work. Casimir Delavigne worked marching up and 
n the room, Scribe never left his chair, Germain 
never left his couch. He had scarcely got out of bed 
when he lay down again on the sofa. He spent his 
existence on his back like an Oriental, only, instead 
of smoking he took snuff, and instead of dreaming, 
he read. 

The following trifling fact shows this dramatic 
counsellor at work. Scribe brings him ' Genevieve, 
ou la Jalousie paternelle.' The reader may be aware 
that the piece deals with a father who shows every 
suitor for his daughter's hand the door, because he 
cannot make up his mind to part with her. When 
Scribe has finished reading his piece, Germain says : 
1 Your piece is an impossibility. Your father is a 
downright egotist who sacrifices everything to him- 
self. As for loving his daughter, he does not love her 
a bit.' 

Scribe takes his piece home with him and at their 
next meeting reads his comedy which he has altered 
and corrected. * This time,' Germain exclaims, * you 
have made your father more impossible still ; he is 
too fond of his daughter.' A profound remark 
whence sprang the third and last form of that little 

.V/.r/r Years of Recollections 237 

masterpiece of delicate portraiture entitled * Gene- 

The Thursday dinners were not only devoted to 
consultation, there was an exchange of subjects, a 
borrowing and lending of denouements. One day 
Casimir makes his appearance in a state of great con- 
sternation, he is at an utter loss for the denouement of 
the fifth act of ' l'cole de Vieillards,' the final situa- 
tion persistently eludes his grasp. 

' One moment,' says Scribe, ' I am just putting the 
last touches to a vaudeville, entitled, " Michel and 
Christine," and have hit upon an ingenious device for 
settling matters satisfactorily, the device would suit 
y>ur piece admirably, you may have it and welcome.' 
'And what will you do?' Til keep it just the 
same.' ' And what about the public ? ' * The public, 
the public will not find it out. No one will suspect 
for one moment that the denouement of a little, one- 
act piece and that of a grand five-act comedy in verse 
can be the self-same thing. You may take it without 
just as I will keep it without remorse.' Scribe's 
:i proved correct, not a single critic noticed the 
likeness, but, of course, the denouement of the vaude- 
ville appeared charming, while that of the comedy 
i-d weak. A thin thread suffices to tie a short 
act together, it must be untied with a deft and ! 
hand, but a grand w< >rk iv< juii force and vigour 

in its solution than in its conception. 

Those kind' uiges ga to another very 

238 .V/.r/r Years of Recollections 

curious incident. Casimir was turning over in his 
mind a lively, amusing, spirited subject for a two- 
act comedy ; it was to be founded on a diplomatic 
misunderstanding ; a young fellow who has been sent 
to a small State in Germany in search of a particular 
costume for a ball is mistaken for an important 
diplomatic envoy. On the same day that Casimir 
had made up his mind to work out this plot, Scribe 
and Germain appear at the weekly meeting with a 
plot with which they profess themselves delighted ; 
the story of a young princess of eighteen who with all 
her grace, coquetry, finesse and ignorance has, more- 
over, a secret affection which sets her heart aglow, and 
is all of a sudden thrown amidst the intrigues of a 
small court. She steers her course among the suitors 
for her royal hand with as much skill as, and a good 
deal more sprightly gaiety than, Penelope herself. 
Both plots meet with the same enthusiastic reception, 
and the three companions part from one another with 
the applause awaiting the two pieces already ringing 
in their ears. A few days elapse when one fine 
morning Scribe gets the following letter from Casimir : 
* My dear friend, I cannot get your princess out of 
my head. I am positively in love with her. I want 
you to give her to me. My diplomatist seemed to 
please you. Take him. Let us make an exchange/ 
Very well,' says Scribe, 'let us make an exchange.' 
And the transaction resulted in the idea of Casimir 
developing into * Le Diplomate,' and that of Scribe 

Si.vty Years of Recollections 239 

and Germain, being embodied in ' La Princesse 
Aurclie'; that is, Casimir had bartered a success for 
a failure. On which fact Scribe commented by say- 
ing : 'Germain and I would have had the same 
success with " La Princesse Aurclie " as we had with 
" Le Diplomate," for we would have made a two-act 
comedy out of it and not a five-act. Furthermore, 
we would have written it in prose and not in verse. 
It is the verses that ruined Casimir. He writes them 
too well and they are too pretty ; the material was 
too thin to stand the embroidery and the coat 
cracked. That is the result of being a poet.' Then 
he added, laughing : * That kind of thing could never 
happen to me.' 

A final trait to the picture of that friendly and 
brilliant trio. In the days when they had not made 
a name for themselves, the three companions often 
went to the Theatre- Fran^ais to wind up their 
evening. * Ah,' they said, ' if we could only get a 

ing on that stage.' A few years afterwards, 
tluy still dined together and went to finish up their 
evening at the Thcatre-Fran^ais, where on one of 

c occasions they were playing * L'l^cole des 
Vieillards,' and ' Valeric.' (iermain iX-lavi-ne's name 

not "ii the bill, but his spirit and epigram pervaded 
both pieces. He aluay> remained the prime cnnsult- 

n after the Thursday dinners 
1C a time uhen they did cease, in 
he day when the two Delavi 

240 \\ws of Recollections 

got married. 1 advisedly say the day, for they both 
got married on the same day which circumstance 
elicited a clever mot from Louis-Philippe. The 
brothers went to apprise him of the impending 
change in their condition. ' We are both going to 
get married on Thursday, sire.' ' Indeed, and at the 
the same hour ? ' * Yes, sire.' ' And in the same 
church ? ' ' Yes, sire.' ' And to the same woman ? ' 


Our second dramatic counsellor also deserves a 
place among the cabinet pictures of the nineteenth 

On the 5th June 1879, there died in Paris at the 
age of eighty-four a gentleman of whose * life ' and 
death the public were made aware at the same time 
by some short obituary notices in the papers. His 
name was M. Maherault 

Who and what was M. Maherault ? An unknown 
man who deserves to be known for three different 
reasons. He was in turns and at the same time an 
eminent administrator, a very valuable dramatic 
counsellor and a noted art connoisseur and collector. 
Having entered the Ministry for War when very 
young, he rose gradually to the most important 
positions, solely in virtue of the services he rendered. 
The Due d'Orleans, struck by his high administrative 
capacities 'and his views on military reform said one 

Si.vfy ' Years of Recollections 241 

day, ' Monsieur Maherault, you shall be my Minister 
for War.' 

The death of the Due made an end of those 
brilliant expectations ; at the advent of the Second 
Republic, he was at the head of a department and was 
promoted to the post of secretary-general, on which 
occasion Scribe wrote him the following charming 
letter : 

Republic and your wife and mine, and Lisbeth and the 
whole of your family which is virtually ours. We 
furthermore beg to thank the actual government for 
discharging the debts of the Monarchy. Yours under 
all reigns,' E. SCRIBE.' 

In 1851, General de Saint-Arnaud wished to include 
him in the reorganisation of the Council of State, on 
the sole condition that he should attend the reception 
of the Prince- President that night at the Elyse"e. 
Maherault simply replied : * If I possess no other 
claims to the promotion, that visit will not provide 
me with any ; if on the other hand, as I believe, I 
have some claims, the visit is use-less, and the condi- 
tion offensive ; I will not go to the Elysee.' He kept 
his word, and VTOfl not appointed. Such was the man 

public capa 

As for his second role, that of dramatic counsellor. 

it for the benefit of one author, but 

with a vengeance; It :;cra- 

\ol.. II Q 

242 ;r Years of Recollections 

tion to say that the maintenance and increase of 
Scribe's glory had become a profession with Mahe- 
rault Each morning, however pressing his adminis- 
trative business, he called on Scribe on his way to the 
Ministry, and as a matter of course, found the 
playwright at work. The visit often lasted only a 
few minutes, just long enough to go in, to say ' How 
do you do,' to cast his eyes over the half-finished page 
on the writing table, to sniff the air of that study, and 
to inquire if things were going all right, whether there 
was not some matter with this or that manager in 
which he, Maherault, could be of use, and to go out 
again. More often than not, Scribe did not stop his 
work, did not get off his chair, but, his eyes fixed on 
his paper, went on writing, merely saying : ' Oh, it's 
you ; how are you ? How is your wife ? ' The scene 
meanwhile, was proceeding apace. But every now 
and then, Scribe put down his pen, saying ? ' You are 
the very man I want ; you remember the situation 
that puzzled me yesterday. I think I've made it all 
right. Just listen to it.' Then when he had finished 
reading: 'Well, what do you think of it?' If 
Maherault happened to say, ' I don't think you have 
got hold of it ; I am not altogether satisfied, and I'll 
tell you why ; ' Scribe invariably replied in his 
quietest manner : * Very well, you had better go now, 
I'll just see who is right, you or I, and I'll read you 
to-night what I have done.' In what way had 
Maherault become entitled to this confidence ? By 

of Recollections 243 

his affection for Scribe, no doubt, but more so by 
his education, or rather by his being the son of his 

If the Com^die-Fran^aise wishes to show its grati- 
tude, nay, to discharge a debt, it ought to place in its 
crushroom and in a prominent the most prominent 
, the bust of the elder Mahe"rault ; but for him 
there would be no Comedie-Fran^aise to-day. The 
year 1793 had suppressed the Com^die-Fran^aise 
under circumstances which graphically depict the 
period itself At the eighth performance of' Pamela' 
(adapted from Richardson's novel) by Francois de 
Neufchateau, the following two lines were frantically 

' Ah ! les persecuteurs sont les seuls comhmiu: 
Et les plus tolerants sont les plus raisonnables.' 

For the sake of the period itself, I sincerely trust 

that the applause was not due to the supposed literary 

merit <f these lines, but be this as it may, 'a patriot 

in uniform,' says Le Saint Public, rose from his seat in 

the balcony, and shouted in an indignant voice : ' No 

political tolerance ! Political tolerance is a crime.' 

The famous actor Fleury replies to the interpellation 

and the public applauds still more frantically. The 

i uniform is hooted out of the place, and 

day there comes an order from the Committee 

of I'ublic Safety to close the Theatre and take- the 

actors to prison. Mine. Roland relates in her 

that one eveni: was startled by 

244 r Years of Recollections 

the sound of loud laughter and song proceeding 
from the passages of the prison, on inquiry she 
found that the comedians of the Theatre-Frangais 
had arrived, they were accused of preaching modera- 
tion, of a want of civic zeal, nay, of conspiring in 
favour of royalty, by having performed a play of 
reactionary tendencies. They took their incarceration 
in such a cheerful spirit that one of them said, ' How 
well we did play to-night. I suppose it was the 
threat hanging over us that spurred us on. We 
simply showed our accusers that we did not care a 
snap of the fingers for them. We'll perhaps be 
gullotined, but never mind, it was a capital perfor- 
mance.' I have got an idea that it is only French 
artists who could make that kind of thing a pretext 
for playing with greater spirit and brilliancy. When 
the Reign of Terror was at an end, the Directory 
established, and Frangois de Neufchateau had become 
a minister, his great anxiety was to reconstruct the 
Theatre-Frangais. It was the least he could do for 
it Unfortunately the Theatre-Frangais was by 
then a name and nothing more. Overthrown by the 
Revolution, it had split up into three inferior theatres, 
three companies under the direction of three enter- 
prising managers, all three of whom were fast going 
to ruin. 

One bankruptcy followed hard upon another 
nothing therefore seemed easier than to effect a re- 
conciliation between those members who had been 

Si.vtr Years of Recollections 245 

united so long and who while separated were suffer- 
ing dearly for that separation. Seemed ; in reality 
nothing was more difficult than to bring about that 
juncture. There were obstacles of all kinds ; material 

icles ; several of the older and not a few of the 
most eminent members having gone to the provinces 
and even to foreign countries. Then there were 
political obstacles ; the most ardent party-feeling 
divided many ; there were the republicans on the one 
hand, the royalists on the other, and all were equally 
irreconcilable and fanatically incensed against their 
opponents. The charming Mdlle. Contat, whom the 
dearest reminiscences bound to the monarchy, ex- 
claimed : ' I would prefer being guillotined not only 
with regard to my head, but from head to foot rather 
than appear on the same boards with that horrible 
Jacobin of a Dugazon.' Added to this there was the 
vexed question of professional vanity. More than 

of those actors on joining a second-rate company 
had become a leader, nay a star. The non-com- 
missioned officers had become captains, and the cap- 
tains colonels. True, we have seen in our da 

ich marshal redescend by his own will to the 
simple rank of a general of division in the very army 
of which but the day before he had been the chief, 
but in the army of actors such abnegation of si 
unknown. An understudy who has happened to be- 
come the 1 man in his own line consent to 

me an understudy once more, a star consenting 

246 '} Years of Recollections 

voluntarily to re-enter the group of nebulae ? Perish 
the thought ! There was, finally, the question of 
pounds, shillings, and pence, the salaries were most 
uncertain, but considerably larger in the case of 
temporary engagements ; this or that leading actor 
had only signed with the impressario with a solid 
guarantee for the whole of his money, in that way the 
concern might go * smash ' but the actor himself was 
safe. The difficulty, therefore, was to remove those 
many obstacles, to satisfy conflicting claims, to silence 
rival passions, to conciliate opposing interests. To 
do this required little short of a miracle, and the 
miracle was accomplished by the elder Mahe"rault. 
Francis de Neufchateau gave him plenary powers and 
in fact, put the whole of the burden of the work on 
him, Mahe"rault put his heart and soul in the busi- 
ness. * You are undertaking an impossible task,' said 
Saint-Prix, the actor to him ; ' you do not know the 
race you are dealing with, they will kill you with pin- 
pricks.' ' They may if they like,' replied Mahe"rault, 
' meanwhile I'll put fresh life into them. I want the 
Comedie-Frangaise to become a national institution, I 
wish the artists to have a home of their own and the 
home to be called " The House of Moliere, Corneille, 
and Racine." ' He proved as good as his word. 

On the nth Priarial of the year VII of the First 
Republic (3<Dth May 1799) the walls of Paris displayed 
the following bill, ' Re-opening of the Theatre- Frangais. 
11 Le Cid " and " L'cole'des Maris." The sight of that 

Years of Recollections 247 

poster repaid M. Maherault for all his trouble ; he 
never would take any other reward. 

Brought up by such a father, there is no need to 
say much about the education of the son. The 
passion for the theatre was in his blood. He was 
barely two years old when taken to the playhouse for 
the first time, Marie-Joseph Chewier (the dramatic 
author) was his godfather and Mme. Vestris (his god- 
mother). He got as much schooling at the wings of 
the Come"die-Franc / iise as at the College de Navarre. 
He lived and grew up between Talma, Fleury, Mold 
and Mdlle. Contat, and for twelve years every success 
at the Com&die-Fran^aise found an echo as it were in 
the brain of that lad. In his case the doctrine of 
predestination does not admit of a moment's discus- 
sion, nature meant him to be a dramatic adviser. The 
most characteristic trait in connection with this func- 
tion is that he brought both his taste as a dilettante 
and his methodical spirit as an administrator to bear 
upon it. 

Maherault was the very opposite of Germain 
Delavigne. The latter never put his advice in writing. 
I the distinctive mark of his judg- 
ments, such conciseness suited his indolent tempera- 
ritical subtleness scarcely required 
than a phrase to express its view. Maherault 
! much more than a single hearing to form an 
opinion, nor in a single line. 

No one knew this better than Scribe, and when he 

24$ ty Years of Recollections 

had finished and read his piece to him, he simply 
handed it over to him, after which Maherault began 
to state his real advice, his advice, pen in hand. 

I have before me a file of papers, labelled, ' My 
Remarks on Scribe's pieces, before their performance.' 
These ' remarks ' are nothing less than so many 
analyses of ten, twelve pages each, I have seen some 
of twenty-five pages. 

Maherault analyses the work act by act, scene by 
scene, character by character, almost line for line. 
Not a single contradiction escapes his vigilant eye, 
not an error but what he points it out ; I say ' points 
it out,' I might say pursues, for he brings the im- 
placable honesty of the conscientious head of a 
department to bear upon his functions. His sincerity 
often trenches upon harshness, as for instance : 'These 
verses are deplorably weak, they contain neither an 
epigram nor an original thought. The bad prose 
they are intended to replace was far better.' We are 
confronted with the bluff, not to say rough, honesty 
of intercourse which Montaigne claimed from genuine 
friendship. I greatly honour Maherault for that 
sincerity, but I must confess that I admire Scribe 
as much. He shows his exceptional character in 
this as he does in everything. 

The authors who consult their friends may be 
divided into three .classes : the humble who have no 
confidence in themselves, the vain who never lack 
confidence in themselves, and the men of parts, the 

Si.i'ty 1 'cars of Recollections 249 

men of strength, who listen to, appreciate, and benefit 
by, everything. At the first critical remarks that 
fall from your lips, the humble are sure to exclaim : 
* Indeed you are right, it is very bad.' And they are 
ready there and then to condemn the whole of the 
work and to throw it into the fire. One is always 
obliged to snatch their ' ^Eneid ' from their hands. 
But that class of author is not very numerous. 

The vain ones look surprised, smile disdainfully, 
and show great irritation. They are the grandsons 
of Oronte.* Ancelot t was a type of that kind. 
After having listened to one of his comedies and over- 
whelmed him with the adjectives, 'delightful,' 'charm- 
ing ' exquisite, a listener ventured timidly to remark, 
'The second act is perhaps a little too long/ T think 
it too short,' replied Ancelot emphatically. Then 
come the masters of their craft, whose distinctive 
trait is not only to ask for advice, but to listen to it, 
to profit even by bad advice, to interpret the listener's 
silence, to read on his face the effect of their 
words, to allow for the character and intelligence of 
each of their counsellors, in short, to judge their 
judges ; tin's is the characteristic of superior men. 
Some short fragments from the correspondence of 
the two friends will tend to show in what manner the 

The Oronte of Moliere's 'Misanthrope, 1 not the one 
des Femmes.' TK. 

i he sometime Director of the Vaudeville and member of the 
Academic-Fran vaise. TK. 

250 ; Years of Recollections 

one gave advice, in what manner the other profited by 

SfcRICOURT, 24^ September, 1842. 

' I have entirely reconstructed the fourth act, mind, from the first to 
the last line, and considerably altered the others. Will you and can you 
let me read them to you once more, if it be not trespassing too much 
on your friendship ? ' 

1 S6RICOURT, October, 1845 

' I will have finished my second volume (this time it was a novel) in 
three days. I'll bring it to Paris to you and put it to school with 
you for a while. The first volume has fared too well at your hands for 
its brother not to claim the same care. 

' Since you went away, 1 have read all your remarks on my three 
acts, or nearly all, for your remarks, dear friend, are an astounding and 
gigantic bit of work, and like everything you do, conscientious to 
a degree. From what I have read, you are perfectly right ; all your 
notes are in excellent taste, and marked by profound criticism, but I 
am really at a loss whether to thank you or not, for now I feel bound 
to attend to every one of your suggestions and that will take me a long 

Maherault in addition to the subtle critical faculty 
which he brought to bear upon his functions of 
dramatic adviser, had two qualities essential to the 
part. He only advised you to do that of which you 
were capable. I was always complimenting him upon 
that acute perception, and one day I told him in con- 
nection with this a capital anecdote about Gouvion 
Saint-Cyr which I had from M. Guizot. 

Gouvion Saint-Cyr was only second-in-command 
to General in Spain. The enemy was harass- 
ing our army corps, and there was a doubt whether 
we ought to give battle or retreat. The general-in- 
chief summons a council of war at which Gouvion 
Saint-Cyr strongly pronounces in favour of a retreat, 
which advice is adopted. An hour before the time 

Si.rty Years of Recollections 2 5 i 

fixed for striking the tents, the general-in-chief is 
severely wounded by the bursting of a shell during a 
reconnaissance. Gouvion Saint-Cyr assumes the com- 
mand, immediately countermands the retreat, gives 
battle and wins the day. * Why did 'you advise the 
general-in-chief this morning not to give battle ? ' 
asked one of his officers. ' Because he would have 
lost it,' was the answer. 

Maherault's second merit was that he belonged to 
what I would call the inrcuthc advisers, to those 
intellects which are both active and sensible at the 
same time, who without even substituting their judg- 
ment to yours, show you your own road and complete 
your own idea. One day, while we were reading 
' Adrienne Lecouvreur' to him, Maherault said ' Your 
piece wants another personage. 1 ' And where, in the 
name of all that's sensible are we to put your ad- 
ditional personage?' 'We'll put him in the place of 
one who is ahead}- there. 1 'What do you mean?' 
' What I say ; you have got a Due d'Aumont who 
very insignificant part He is only a kind of 
: newsman. Why not put a little abbe in his 
(.-?' 'Admirable,' exclaims Scribe, 'that will be 
a genuii ;itury figure. An actress, a 

princess, a military hero, and an abbe; n<>\\ the 

is complete.' And in fact, that one n 
introduced into the action, modified all >ur lighter 

,allantry,'cvci\ tl .:ned 

a different complexion when tl. 

252 .V ivt_ r }'<-<!> -s of Recollections 

from his lips, and he ran and fluttered and buzzed 
throughout the piece like some winged creature. 
1 You are entitled to author's fees,' we said to 
Maherault, laughing. 

The cause of Maherault's thorough knowledge of 
scenic conditions was his inordinate love of the drama. 
As I have said, he had commenced going to the play 
when he was two years old, and he still went at 
eighty. Scribe had had him put on the permanent 
and * first night ' free-list everywhere and he was to 
be seen everywhere, operas, comedies, farces, melo- 
dramas, scratch performances, rehearsals, he never 
missed anything. He always arrived before the lever 
de rideau. When he went to the theatre, the dinner 
at his house was earlier than usual, lest he should miss 
a scene. One day, while they were rehearsing a piece 
of his son-in-law's, M. de Najac, Mahe"rault was eighty- 
two then, he jumped over a seat so lightly that M. 
Saint-Germain who is as sprightly in ordinary con- 
versation as he is on the stage, said to the author : * I 
have just noticed your young pickle of a father-in-law 
jumping from the pit into the stalls.' Towards his 
latter days, his doctor having forbidden him to leave 
home unless the weather was favourable, his son-in- 
law was bound to come to his room after every 
premiere, no matter how late, and to give him full 
particulars of the performance ; he would not wait 
until next morning. 

Assuredly it was not his physical strength that 

]'t'tirs of Recollections 253 

kept him young in body as well as in mind until the 
last moments of his life. He had just sufficient 
muscular substance to carry him through, it was a 
second passion which often proved but one and the 
same with the first, a passion as healthy and ardent 
as that of the sportsman, the passion of the art 



Art collectors who are millionaires have no doubt a 
claim to the world's consideration ; I have known 
some very able connoisseurs among them, but they 
always lack the two great marks of the collector, 
they are not called upon to make sacrifices and to 
give themselves trouble. With them it is in nine 
cases out of ten only a question of vanity. They as 
it were commission someone else to have taste for 
them, they find the money and on the strength of 
their representative's knowledge they are promoted 
to the noble rank of amateurs. But to ferret out bit 
by bit and in the course of many years, a collection of 
tic objects which constitutes in itself a work of 
art, to discover what was unknown, to appreciate at its 
tistic value what had been misjudged, to 
tten talent, t< > itate the 

art productions of a whole period, to be running 

hither and thither, to compare, to take counsel, to 

part of one's well earned rest, to stint 

in one's ban is, to do all 

this in order to get together, after forty 

ty Ycdrs of Recollections 

hard work, as did M. Sauvageot for instance, a col- 
lection worth several hundred thousand francs out of 
a \ varly salary which never exceeded four thousand, 
that's what I would call science, patience, and pas- 
sionate love and taste for art. And Maherault who 
throughout his life had never anything but his 
government place to depend on has left an altogether 
rare collection of drawings, prints and engravings of 
the eighteenth century. That was the period he 
had selected as his domain in which he took up a 
distinctly separate, albeit small space, namely, in 
everything that bore upon the drama. 

It was he who designed for the magnificent col- 
lection of stage dresses by Martinet fifty or sixty 
portraits of the principal Paris artists in their best 
parts, for he drew very well, and among his papers, 
I find the following charming note : 


' The scene of the Armchair from " Le Mariage de Figaro." Scene 
from 4th Act of Chenier's u Henry VIII." Scene from 4th Act of 
Ch^nier's "Charles IX." Scene from 2nd Act of Legouve"'s " Mort 
de Henri IV."' 

And at the end of the notes I find the price put 
upon the drawings by Maherault : 

'CHARLES IX, 25 francs. 
PHILIPPE II, 25 francs. 
'HENRI IV, 25 francs' 

Total 75 francs. Not a very high figure, but how 
eloquent in its very modesty ; how well it shows us 
the saving penny by penny of the poor collector 

.S'/.r/r }' t 'tirs of Recollections 

No doubt, Maherault must have thought it hard to 
sell his personal work at such low prices, but equally 
no doubt, he was watching for the opportunity of 
purchasing the work of someone else and those 75 
francs filled him with joy for they enabled him to 
buy the drawing of some master which may be worth 
300 francs to-day. Heaven alone knows how many 
times he found himself face to face with Sardou at 
the dealers' in eighteenth century prints. He knew 
every amateur, he had turned over every portfolio of 
value, he studied and annotated every catalogue, he 
attended every sale. One ran against him in every 
nook and corner of Paris, hurrying along, pale, tall, 
thin, with his white beard gleaming, his near-sighted 

peering into every shop window, his coat partly 
buttoned, the whole man looking like one of the 
n his collection, like an old portrait of 
some forgotten artist, giving one the impression of 
some oddity. And an oddity he was, assuredly. 
Perhaps the reader would like to know the dimly 
defined idea he was f.r ever pursuing, or, rather, the 

that haunted him ; well, it was the idea of the 
future sale of his collection. 

The day of the sale of his collection is to the col- 

r the last day of judgment. That day virtually 
i mines whether he is to be classed among the 
connoisseurs or among the dupes. That da)* just- 
or condemns the sacrifices he has made in the in- 
dulgence of his passion. For the collector not only 

256 .SY.r/r Years of Recollections 

stints himself; I have known some (though Mah- 
rault was not of the number) who, in order to increase 
their collection have grudged their families their daily 
food; they stifle the still small voice of their con- 
science with the excuse that at the sale their collec- 
tion like the trusty servant of the gospel will remit 
to their heirs ten times the talents with which it 
had been entrusted. Maherault often said to his 
daughter : * I hope to leave you a " magnificent 
sale." ' 

The sale took place a twelvemonth after his death, 
I fancy that on that day the shade of Maherault 
which must be diaphanous indeed, if our shade re- 
semble our body, must have found means to slip into 
that auction room, in which he spent so many hours 
of his life and have quivered with pride and joy when 
it heard the auctioneer state the splendid total of 
the proceeds four hundred and twenty-five thousand 
francs. Thus, ' if after death shades feel,' it must 
have been one of his red letter days in Paradise. 


The Portrait Gallery continued. M. Etienne de Jouy, the Father of 
the Parisian Chronique. The Salon of M. de Jouy. M. de Jouy 
as a Benedict. Mdlle. de Jouy, afterwards Mme. Boudonville. 
M. de Jouy's Guests. M. de Jouy's Talent for Parody. M. de 
Jouy as a Librettist and Dramatist. A Glimpse of Talma. The 
Libretto of ' La Vestale.' A First Glimpse of Meyerbeer. The 
Libretto of 'Guillaume Tell' suggested by Mme. Boudonville. 
Intended for Meyerbeer A Silhouette of Rossini, 


DURING the greater part of Louis-Philippe's reign, 
the two rival schools of French literature had virtu- 
ally selected two drawing-rooms as their respective 
headquarters ; those of M. Nodier and of M. de Jouy. 
Tlu-M- t\v> names may be taken as the two standards 
under which the opposing factions fought. I was 
a frequent visitor to both these centres, but so much 
has been written about that presided over by M. 
Nodier that I will only speak about M. de Jouy's. I 
have met many interesting personages there, one of 
the most curious was undoubtedly the host himself. 

A few years before the great revolution, M. de Jouy 
began life as ;i ' middy ' in the King's navy and took 
part in several naval engagements against the English, 

VOL. I! K 

2 ; S Sixty Years of Recollections 

losing two fingers in one of these, the name of which 
I forget. If at that time someone had told him that 
one day he would be a famous litterateur^ poet and 
member of the Academie-Frangaise, he would cer- 
tainly have been greatly surprised. At that period 
he was a handsome, brave, and somewhat foolhardy 
young fellow, a kind of eighteenth century d'Ar- 
tagnon, tall, robust, with charming features, a quan- 
tity of fair hair, drooping in wild, unkempt locks on 
his shoulders, a pair of magnificent, large blue eyes, 
a mobile mouth, an inexhaustible flow of animal 
spirits, and in excellent health. The world smiled on 
him, and he smiled on the world. Literature and 
poetry occupied but a small space in his mental ex- 
istence, his whole library consisted of a small volume 
of ' Horace ' from which he quoted constantly, and of 
one book of Voltaire's which he carried upon his 
person. When he came to Paris, he made his debut 
in literature as a general opens a battle, by two 
cannon shots, the libretto of ' La Vestale ' first, 
then later on ' L'Ermite de la Chausse d'Antin.' 
As far as the latter went, everything about it was 
positively new, its form, its title, its subject, and its 
author. In his capacity of a man of the world, and 
addicted to its pleasures, as a brilliant and somewhat 
pugnacious talker he recorded the incidents of his 
daily life while recording the daily existence of the 
big city. What we call ' Parisianism,' took its start 
with ' L'Ermite de la Chausse'e-d'Antin.' The school 

.'y Years of Recollections 259 

of the modern chronique (causerie^ gossip, table-talk, 
call it what you will), sprang from ' L'Ermite de la 
Chaussee-d'Antin.' This or that chapter of 'L'Ermite' 
would make an admirable comedy in itself. ' Le 
1'arrain ' of Scribe is taken from a page of ' L'Ermite.' 
One of the most remarkable scenes of ' Les Faux 
Bonshommes ' (Barriere's), I mean the scene of the 
imaginary castles (chdteaux en Espagne, castles in the 
air) enacted by the husband a propos of the death 
of his wife is borrowed from ' L'Ermite de la Chausse"e- 
d'Antin.' The most curious fact, though, in connec- 
tion with all this was that in a little while the author 
and his work became, as it were, one. People called 
him the 'Hermit,' he accepted the title and with it 
the part to a certain extent. Being the owner of a 
small dwelling-house in the Rue des Trois Freres, 
(actually a part of the Rue Taitbout), he conceived 
the idea of giving it the appearance of a hermitage. 
He built a tiny chapel in his little garden. Truly the 
divinity inhabiting that chapel was Voltaire and he, 
M. <le Jouy, was the officiating priest. His dressing 
gown was a monk's frock, the belt a rope. The way 
to his study was by a steep, winding staircase, the 
' bannister ' of which was also a rope, in this instance 
knitted. In addition to this, M. de Jouy, thoi 
still young 'doubled ' the two parts of the proverbial 
(-har.u trr, he remained a devil, while becoming a 

* There is a French proverb to the effect that when the devil gets 

260 Sixty Years of Recollections 

( The salon of M. de Jouy ' is the first line of the 
synopsis of this chapter. M. de Jouy had, in fact, a 
salon, which in the literary acceptation of the term, it 
is a rare and difficult thing to have. It is not given 
to everyone to have a salon, however rich, powerful 
and aristocratic he may be. The first and foremost 
requisite in a salon is a woman to enact the hostess. 
Now, it so happened that M. de Jouy, though 
married, had no wife. He was too fond of other 
men's wives to have remained attached for any length 
of time to his own. Shortly after his marriage with 
a young English girl, of very high birth and of a 
distinctly original turn of intellect, there was a separa- 
tion. I am afraid I have used the wrong word ; for 
there was neither separation nor scandal. The tie 
was not severed, it was simply unfastened. There 
was not the slightest grievance against the wife ; there 
was no serious cause of reproach against the husband, 
unless it was that he gradually lost the habit of going 
home. Luckily the union, though short, had borne 
fruit : a daughter, who was brought up by her mother 
until she was sixteen. But she often saw her father, 
she worshipped both her parents and bore a remark- 
able likeness to both. She had in addition to the 
mother's refined heart and lofty sentiments, the 
brilliancy and lively temperament of the father and 
these qualities, enhanced by that strong moral sense 

old, he becomes a hermit. Everyone knows the English version : When 
the devil was sick, etc. TR. 

Sixty Years of Recollections 261 

which often forces itself upon young people placed in 
difficult situations, had made her a charming and 
altogether individual woman. Throughout her life 
she endeavoured, not to reunite those who were 
parted, their utter dissimilarity of character effectu- 
ally forbade such an attempt, but to bring them 
more or less together. 

M. de Jouy willingly lent himself to the idea, for 
his position as a man separated from his wife affected 
him no more seriously than his position as a married 
man. Wedlock had been such a trivial thing with 
him, that he failed to regard it as a chain, let alone as 
a sacrament. I remember as if it were yesterday, his 
saying to me in connection with 'Louise de Lignerolles,' 
in which I had attempted to depict the often terrible 
consequences of the husband's adultery : ' But my 
dear boy, all this is simply so much nonsense. Who, 
in the name of all that's good, gave you the idea of 
building five acts and a tragic catastrophe on the 
ulillo of a husband who happens to have a 
mistress. You are assuredly not under the impression 
that you are going to draw tears from anyone with 
that kind of thing?' 

When his daughter was sixUvn, she returned to his 
roof and kept house for him. It was not an easy task. 
The reader has heard of the sentence Mme. Nc 
the wife of the austere Minister, wrote in her po 
book : ' Not to forget to re-compliment M. Thomas' 

262 Sixty Years of Recollections 

on his ' PetnHde.' * M. de Jouy's gatherings were not 
altogether made up of people who had constantly to 
be ' re-complimented,' namely, poets and litterateurs. 
There were a good many orators and political men, 
such as Manuel, Benjamin Constant, the latter with 
his fair hair, and German-student look, flitting from 
group to group, and scattering his brilliant paradoxes 
broadcast. Added to these came the beauties of the 
Restoration and the Monarchy of July, such as Mme. 
Sampayo, Mme. de Vatry, Mme. Friant, ' sailing 
through the dazzling halls, their brows bedecked 
with flowers,' as the poet says. There was, further- 
more, a crowd of foreigners of both sexes, attracted 
thither by the great reputation of the host. On one 
or two occasions I met Rostopchine there, and heard 
him talk. Well, M. de Jouy's daughter, married to a 
young and charming staff-officer, M. Boudonville, 
steered her course amidst all these celebrities, careful 
of their susceptibilities, of their jealousy of one 
another, without giving umbrage to anyone, without 
committing a single blunder or mistake. She con- 
stantly reminded me of those skilful gondoliers, glid- 
ing so deftly and gracefully through the network of 
the canals in Venice. Her father's jovial, cordial and 
spontaneous temperament provided the lighter notes 
in the entertainment. His was, no doubt, the liveliest 
imagination I have ever known. Conversation meant 

* The original word is relouer, which is as questionable French as 
're-compliment,' is que;tionable_English. TK. 

Sixty Years of Recollections 263 

to him what champagne means to other people. It 
stimulated, nay, intoxicated him. Towards midnight, 
he took the conversational bit between his teeth, and 
the drollest conceits followed one another like rockets 
at a display of fireworks. One evening the conversa- 
tion turned on Victor Hugo whom he detested, and 
forthwith he gave us a parody of ' Lucrece Borgia,' 
which as a side-splitting burlesque surpassed by far 
that of ' L'Harnali, ou la Contrainte par cor,' by 
Duvert and Lauzanne.* Being such a fire eater as to 
stutter and stammer in his excitement, M. de Jouy's 
bursts of anger became positively comic. The slightest 
attempt to criticise one of his favourites, to question 
this or that lofty idea, to defend this or that platitude, 
called forth a torrent of exaggerated language which 
istibly reminded one of Alceste. f And people 
,hed at him as they laugh at Alceste, they liked 
him as they like Alceste ; he virtually showed me 
how the part of Alceste should be enacted so as to 
be comic throughout while never ceasing to be sym- 
pathetic. I remember a remark of his which is thor- 
oughly characteristic of the spontaneity of his mind. 
1 Ie was sitting on a small couch between his daughter 
and a foreign guest who was overwhelming him with 

* The title of this burlesque is in itself a burlesque. I will en- 
deavour to explain it to the reader, th-u-li I am by no means sure of 
succec ill 1 which stands lor ' Ik-mani* is a corruption 

of ' I'hallali,' the 'death 'sounded by the Fremh huntsman. ('nirainte 
par cor* may mean imprisonment for debt (contrainte par corps), suffer* 
ing from a corn, or coercion by means of a hunt: 
knows the important part the hunting-horn plays in ' Hernani.'- ! 

Here's Alceste in ' Le Misanthrope.'- 

264 Sixty Years of Recollections 

hyperbolical compliments. * Do you hear what this 
gentleman says of me, my dear ? ' he laughed. * Well, 
he does not express by a hundredth part what I think 
on the subject.' 

The literary life of M. de Jouy may be summed up 
by three dates, which again may be summed by three 
names : ' La Vestale,' ' L'Ermite de la Chaussee 
d'Antin ' and ' Sylla.' 

'Sylla 'was one of the most startling successes of 
the century. It has been asserted that the success 
was entirely due to a wig, because Talma appeared in 
it with the Napoleonic lock on his forehead. Those 
detractors had best be referred to the words of 
Alexandre Dumas, who without being compelled by 
the least official mission made the journey from Paris 
to Saint-Germain on the day of M. de Jouy's funeral, 
in order to sing the praises of the bold novelty of 
the fifth act of that play on the author's grave. To 
this eulogy I would like to add two significant traits 
of Talma's talent. The fourth act was founded on a 
scene which inspired both the author and actor with 
great hopes, while at the same time they were greatly 
afraid of it. Sylla falls asleep, and in the midst of his 
slumbers his victims are supposed to uprise before 
him like the terrible phantoms of Shakespeare's 
* Richard 1 1 1.' It was expected that this ' somnambu- 
lism of remorse ' would be productive of an enormous 
effect as enacted by Talma. But a great practical 
difficulty attended with great danger presented itself. 

Sixty Years of Recollections 265 

How should Sylla fall asleep ? The supposed dif- 
ficulty would provoke a smile nowadays, but at that 
time the question was a grave one. Was he to fall 
asleep in a chair ? Under such conditions the effect 
would be lost. Was he to fall asleep on a bed ? In 
that case he would have had to lie down before the 
public, and how could he risk doing such a thing ? 
That an actor should deliver his lines seated or walk- 
ing up and down was admissible, but lying down. 
Heaven forfend the thought, it would show a posi- 
tive disrespect to the public. Talma was in a great 
state of excitement Fortunately, he was not the 
man to give in easily when he fancied he had got 
hold of a tremendous effect, so he bravely has a 
couch placed on the stage, and when the terrible 
scene draws nigh, seats himself on it in a careless, 
matter-of-course way. Then he delivers his first lines, 
his hands resting on his knees. At the next few lines 
he lifts one of his arms, extends one of his legs and 
puts it, without seeming to pay attention to it, on the 
bed. He goes on speaking while stretching it at full 
th, the other leg follows suit, his body gradually 
leans back, his head finally reclines on the pillow and 
Sylla is asleep, without the public having noticed 
were, that he was 'going to bed.' How skilful 
one had to be in those days in order to be bold. 

I feel reluctant to dismiss the piece without record- 
ing another stroke of genius in Talma's 'by-play/ 
In the third act there is a very magnificent 

266 Sixty Years of Recollections 

whore the dictator, surrounded by his courtiers, is 
reminded of the people who are being butchered out- 
side by heartrending and hostile cries. Immediately 
afterwards one of the crowd rushes on to the stage 
and makes straight for Sylla, exclaiming : 

1 Combien en proscris tu, Sylla ? ' 
1 Je ne sais pas ' 

is the answer. 

The reply befits the author of the Cornelian Laws, 
and Talma according to his inspiration, the tone of 
the man of the crowd, the countenances of his 
courtiers, uttered that terrible sentence in different 
fashions. On some nights he merely allowed it to 
drop negligently from his lips, superciliously, as if 
paying no attention whatsoever to his words and pro- 
ducing in that way a horrible contrast to the fury of 
his interlocutor. On others, he would hiss the 
phrase at him like a wild beast and with such violence 
as to terrify his audience. He was a great genius 
indeed. It was not a successthe actor scored, it was a 
genuine triumph. Let me hasten to add, for the sake 
of the author, that from that day forward, M. de Jouy 
ceased to be ' L'Ermite ' to become * the author of 

" Sylla." ' 


The libretto of ' La Vestale ' had raised M. de Jouy 
to the position of our foremost lyrical poet and 
procured him the patronage of the men whom I con- 
sider the most wretched in creation, the dramatic 

.;: Years of Recollections 267 

composers. Can the reader imagine a more terrible 
martyrdom than that of a Jupiter with a Minerva in 
his head or brain and no axe or hatchet at hand to 
deliver him. The operatic composer is in a still 
worse plight. Not only can he not bring forth by 
himself, but he cannot conceive by himself. His 
brain may be teeming with grandiose, striking ideas, 
quivering with life; they are cursed with barrenness 
unless he find what we term a poet to embody them. 
Consequently M. de Jouy was positively besieged by 
th .sc unhappy petitioners in quest of a libretto. One 
day a young fellow, of a distinctly Jewish cast of 
countenance, below the middle height, dressed in very 
good taste, with excellent though reserved manners, 
and the address of a gentleman calls upon him. He 
is the bearer of a letter of introduction from Spontini, 
his name is Meyerbeer, he is the composer of several 
Italian operas, among others the ' Crociato,' and 
anxious to write for the Paris Ope>a. Spontini has 
recommended him to his librettist as a musician of 
great promise. Mme. Boudonville was working in 
study, seated near the window looking 
out upon the garden. The poet and the musician 
begin to talk, various subjects, names and titles are 
<1 one after another, some are received with 
more or less favour, others are scornfully rejected, 
when all at once Mme. Boudonville who had, up till 
then, been listening without saying a word, timidly 
in the conversation. 'I fancy,' she says, ' that 

268 Sixty Years of Recollections 

the story of Guillaume Tell would make a capital 
subject for a libretto. He combines all the necessary 
features, he is a grand character, he is the hero of a 
very interesting situation ; his surroundings would 
furnish a very excellent local picture.' ' Bravo,' 
exclaims M. de Jouy. ' Admirable,' adds Meyerbeer, 
and there and then the plan is drawn out, the out- 
lines of the principal characters put in, etc., etc. 

And now, how did it happen that Rossini composed 
the music of Guillaume Tell,' and that Meyerbeer did 
not compose it ? I am unable to tell, nevertheless, I 
am thankful to Chance or Fate, seeing that to it we 
owe the masterpiece of modern music. Nowadays 
the libretto of ' Guillaume Tell ' is very severely 
handled, the verses are constantly being ridiculed, but 
I never heard anyone make greater sport of them 
than M. de ijouy himself. ' My dear Jouy,' said 
Rossini to him one day, ' I have taken the liberty to 
change a word in the chorus that accompanies Mdlle. 
Taglioni's dance. You wrote 

'"Toi que 1'aiglon ne suivrait pas."' 
(Thou whom the eaglet would not follow.') 

' I have put instead 

"Toi que 1'oiseau ne suivrait pas.'" 
('Thou whom the bird would not follow.') 

' And I am much obliged to you for doing it,' ex- 
claims M. de Jouy. 'The eaglet does convey the 
idea of a dancing bird, does it not ? ' ' Then why 

Sixty Years of Recollections 269 

did you put that eaglet there ? ' asked Rossini, laugh- 
in-. ' I didn't put it there, it's that idiot of a 
Hippolyte Bis,' says M. de Jouy. ' Then why did 
you take that idiot of a Hippolyte Bis for your 
collaborateur? ' inquires Rossini, laughing louder than 
ever. ' Why, why ? Because I am a good-natured 
idiot myself, who does not know his own mind. I 
was told that he is poor, but clever, that he had 
written a tragedy on Attila which was performed at 
the Odeon. ... I never saw his tragedy, but they 
were always quoting a line which was considered 
sublime : 

4 " Ses regards affames devoraient 1'univers." ' 

those confounded " hungry looks " that have 
cd all the mischief. Hippolyte Bis called me a 
great "poet, after that I became like a bit of putty in 
his hands, and allowed him to introduce in my libretto 
a lot of verses which will be a standing disgrace to 
me with posterity for centuries and centuries. For 
thru- N no mistake about it, thanks to you, I am 
immortal and while tlu-iv is one opera left, they'll go 
on singing verses, like that one 

\ux reptiles je I'abandonne 
leur horrible faim lui repoiul d'un tombeau."* 

4 And to think that I ha\v put my name to them. 
Oh, the brut 

All th ned and was said on the Boulevard 

Montmai tiv just by the Passage des Panorama 

270 r Years of Recollections 

we happened to run against Rossini, who had just 
come from home. He had a fortnight's stubble on 
his chin. ' You are looking at my beard/ he said. 
' This is in consequence of a vow I made. I am just 
finishing my orchestration, and lest I should be 
tempted to go out to dinner or an "at home," I 
have taken an oath not to shave myself until my 
work is finished. 

' Are you pleased with what you are doing ? ' asked 
M. de Jouy. 

* It isn't bad/ he replied with a smile. ' It's Gluck, 
with ideas of my own. My chief exertions bear on 
the recitatives and basses. You had better notice the 
ballet music also, it is somewhat sad, as befits a people 
in that position. But you may make your mind easy, 
friend Jouy. There are perhaps a few verses that are 
bad, but the libretto is all right, and I trust I shall 
not spoil it.' 

The result is known to everyone. On the first 
night the overture met with a tremendous success 
The first act also produced a great effect, and the 
second was simply one long triumph from beginning 
to end. The third and fourth acts met with a some- 
what chilling reception, and on entering M. de Jouy's 
drawing-room at midnight, Rossini said, ' It is a quasi 

The life that had began so brilliantly ended 
placidly and sweetly, though somewhat sadly. Dur- 
ing his latter years, when he was already very old 

Sixty Years of Recollections 271 

M. de Jouy lost the use of his legs, his imagination 
forsook him and even his intellect became clouded.* 
Well, a strange thing happened, which proves that 
our dominant faculties die last within us and remain 
standing amidst the ruins of our organisation like a 
column amidst the wreck of an overtoppled temple. 
Kven when his reason was partly gone, the fast 
gathering darkness was lighted up now and again by a 
sudden flash of wit. One day, during one of his usual 
outbursts of temper, for, alas our defects as well as 
our good qualities adhere to us he suddenly pushed 
his daughter away from him, saying, ' Go to the 
devil.' . . . Then he added all of a sudden and with 
a charming smile, ' Don't trouble yourself, he would 
not take you.' 

I have seen few more touching sights than that of 
that father and daughter. Their parts had positively 
become reversed. He had become her child, she his 
mother. She chided him, and every now and then a 
look, a gesture, an expression of his face showed that 
he was conscious of that reversal of parts, and that he 
i-d a kind of gratification from it. Instead of 
feeling humiliated, he seemed to be lovingly affected 
by it His son-in-law had been appointed governor 
of the castle of Saint-Germain, and it comforted the 
old man to end his days in that splendid historical 
dwelling. It afforded him an unexpected pleasure on 
the Sundays and holidays; his roomy armchair was 
* M. dc Jouy died in 1846 at the age of eighty-two TK. 

272 ;; Years of Recollections 

taken to the magnificent circular balcony with its 
superb forged iron railing. Wrapped in an ample 
dressing gown, his eyes fixed on the large open 
square, he sat watching the arrival of the young 
couples and joyous groups that had come to spend 
their leisure day in the country ; he rarely took his 
eyes off them as, amidst loud laughter, they made 
their way to the rustic drinking shops, the small 
restaurants and tiny theatre ; he tried to get a glimpse 
of them as they rested beneath the spreading branches 
of the natural arbours, he strained his ears to catch 
snatches of their songs, resounding through the open 
windows, and at such times there was a momentary 
gleam of youth and gaiety on the withered, wrinkled 
features. The fast waning imagination had conjured 
up, for an instant only, one of the chapters of 
' L'Ermite de la Chauss^e-d'Antin.' 


The Portrait Gallery continued. Lamartine. Lamartine's Pride. 
Hi- Manias. Lamartine's opinion of himself and of La Fontaine. 
His opinion of Rossini. Beranger's opinion of one of Lamartine's 
Poems. Lamartine's kindness. As a Statesman. His first 
appearance in the Chamber. His wonderful capacity for grasping 
a Subject. His hatred of the Napoleonic Legend. His Prophecy 
with regard to the ultimate result of it. Lamartine and an Anecdote 
of Turner, the Painter. How ' 1'Histoire des Girondins' was com- 
posed. Lamartine goes to see an old Member of the Convention. 
Lamartine's Impecuniosity. The Revolution of '48. A Glimpse of 
a Revolutionary. Lamartine at the Hotel-de-Ville. Lamartine 
misjudged. Madame de Lamartine. Her Devotion. Lamartine's 


Tin-: UK is one thing which has never failed to strike 
the marvellous instinct of the public in recognis- 
ing genius at its first cry. The moment the man of 
us appears, the moment he speaks, the hearts of 
all go out to him and proclaim him king. It would 
seem as if all his future achievements are written be- 
forehand in what he has just accomplished. The 
(lcl)Ut contains, as it were, the advance .summary of 
a long life of glory. Apologising for the comparison 

1 to a poet, I feel inclined to say that it 

274 .SY.r/r Years of Recollections 

is the splendour of a magnificent sunlit day, entirely 
foretold in the first ray at dawn. 

This was the case with Lamartine. ' Les Medita- 
tions ' had not * been out ' four-and-twenty hours, and 
lo and behold, by some nameless phenomenon of 
moral electricity, that name, unknown the day before, 
was already on everyone's lips. M. de Talleyrand 
himself, startled by the noise, took the book and read 
it from beginning to end in a few hours snatched 
from sleep, and that same morning he wrote to one 
of his friends : ' Unto us a poet has been born this 

I will not stop to analyse the numerous poetical 
beauties of Lamartine's works ; I am in too great a 
hurry to come to the man to linger with the poet. 

Lamartine has been too often accused of pride, and 
in support of the accusation people always quote that 
famous reply of his to a father who had taken his son 
to see him : ' Well, Monsieur de Lamartine, what do 
you think of my young fellow ? ' ' He was not 
sufficiently moved at the sight of me,' replied the 
poet. To those who take the trouble to think, and 
who knew Lamartine, there is not the least sign of 
pride in this. He was not thinking of himself when 
he uttered the words, he was thinking of some great 
reputation. He would have never said what he did 
say if he had meant to apply it to himself ; in apply- 

Years of Recollections 275 

ing it to every man of renown, he was right, and more 
than right. A young man incapable of admiration is 
not a young man. Furthermore, I am going to tell 
the reader something which will astonish him. La- 
mart ine was unpretending, of course relatively un- 
pretending. Some of his pretensions were, to say 
the least, very odd ; for instance, he thought himself 
a great economist, a great authority on wine growing, 
and a great architect. ' Young man/ he said one day 
to the son of one of his friends, * take a good look at 
me, there, just at the forehead, and you'll be able to 
say to yourself that you have seen the greatest living 
authority on money matters.' Victor Hugo's fame as 
a poet gave him not the least concern, but he envied 
M. Duchatel his reputation as the first authority 
on wine growing. ' He is only an amateur,' he said. 
' I am, as it were, a piece of the vineyards on our 
slopes.' Finally, every visitor to Saint-Point was 
taken to see a horrid little portico, painted in 
startling colours, and made up of two columns 
in heaven alone knows what style, or rather belong- 
ing to all styles. ' My dear fellow,' he used to say, 
' half-a-century hr -pie will make a pilgrimage 

to conn- and see this. My poetry will be forgotten, 

they will say, "there is no doubt about it, the 
man who did this knew how to build."' To believe 

self clever at doing things of which one has not 
:,iry notions does not in itself con- 
stitute a claim to originality, hut it is assuredly an 

276 Sixty Years of Recollections 

original trait in a man's character not to overrate his 
talents in the art of which he is a perfect master, and 
here we touch upon one of the most curious sides of 
this very complex nature. Modesty, with the superior 
intellect is, after all, but the spirit of comparison. 
Well, when Lamartine compared himself to his con- 
temporaries, he considered himself very great, but 
when he compared himself to geniuses of the first 
water, or even to himself, that is, when he drew a 
parallel between what he had done and what he might 
have done, he was, I repeat, modest. One day, I 
ventured to say to him, ' I wish you to explain to me 
a fact which seems to defy explanation at my own 
hands : I like La Fontaine's verses as well as yours, 
I have an equal facility for learning them by heart ; 
I experience an equal pleasure in repeating them to 
myself; but at the end of six months I still know the 
verses of La Fontaine and no longer know yours. 
What is the reason ? ' 'I am going to tell you,' he 
said. ' La Fontaine writes with a pen and even with 
a graving-tool, I write with a brush ; he writes, I 
merely colour, his outlines are clearly drawn, mine 
are vague ; consequently it is very natural that his 
should remain stamped on the memory and that 
mine should become gradually effaced.' Struck and 
moved by the justice and simplicity of the answer, I 
went on. * Nevertheless,' I said in a tone of deep 
conviction, 'no French poet has been more richly 
endowed than you. You have as much genius as the 

Si.rty Years of Recollections 277 

gre'atest among them.' ' It may be,' he replied smil- 
but I have not as much talent ; talent, my dear 
friend, is the thing acquired by work and will. I 
have never worked, and I cannot correct. Whenever 
I have tried to rewrite some verses, I have only made 
them worse. Just compare me to Victor Hugo as a 
versifier, why, I am a simple learner compared to 
him.' ' You are much more like that other spoilt 
child of the Muses, and who, like you, never knew 
what it is to make an effort or to engage in a struggle, 
and who produced his notes in the same way you 
produce your verses, I mean Rossini.' ' Don't put me 
on a level with Rossini. Rossini has produced works. 
He composed "Guillaume Tell," "Othello," " Le 

. : er." I have only produced essays.' 
He did not exactly mean what he said, he perhaps 
counted on my admiration to contradict him, and he 
would have felt greatly astonished if I had taken his 
definition literally; nevertheless, behind this exaggera- 
tion of terms I might almost say of blasphemy, there 

a true and sincere to borrow the clever 

>n of Cardinal de Ret/, l.amartine recognised 

the fact of not ha\ ,-n his worth full play. 

People have often hinted that the disdain with whirh 

poke of his own verses was only so much 
tation. nothing better than a comedy. No man 
of 8 comedian than Lamartine. A diplo- 
mat .and SO at times as to be 
almost I- ; id ing to the trick of 

278 i Years of Recollections 

vulgar ' posing/ He had a sincere disdain for his 
poetical grandeur, because he felt himself to be a poet 
very superior to his works, and above all, a man 
very superior to the poet, as will be seen directly. 
Hence there was in his vanity as an author a kind of 
simplicity and unaffected good humour which added 
to his powers of fascination. I cn hear him ask me, 
as if it were to-day : ' Did you read my last verses in 
' Le Conseiller du Peuple ? " * No.' ' Then read them, 
my dear fellow, they are very pretty.' Then correct- 
ing himself, ' Well, I mean rather pretty.' He took 
his own measure, he judged himself, and what is more 
rare, he allowed others to judge him. Beranger had 
become very enthusiastic about ' Jocelyn.' * My dear 
friend,' he said to Lamartine, ' it is a masterpiece of 
poesy, emotion, and inspiration.' Then he added with 
a mischievous smile, characteristic of him : ' But what 
a pity about those three or four hundred lines which 
you gave your concierge to compose.' What did La- 
martine do ? Laughed ; for he thought the criticism 
very clever and amusing and went repeating it every- 
where. That is very unlike the * genus irritabile 
vatum! There never was in fact, an instance of self- 
respect less irritable and less prone to irritate. All 
the petty passions of poets, envy, hatred, vindictive- 
ness, were foreign to his character. He proved that 
well enough in his poetical war with Barthelemy. 
The poor creature had held him up to public 
indignation, to scorn, to ridicule. Well, in his admir- 

.SY.r/r ) \\irs of Recollections 279 

able ' 6pitre a Nemesis,' Lamartine could never rise 
to anger nor descend to contempt, he stopped at mere 
disdain. And even then, as if the feeling were 
unbearable to him, he tears himself away from it, he 
his wings, soars beyond, and interrupting his 
dithyrambic, he addresses the offender in words of 
evangelic kindness and forgiveness. 

1 Un jour, de nobles pleurs laveront ce delire, 
Et ta main etouffant le son qu'elle a tire", 
Plus juste, arrachera des cordes de ta lyre 
La corde injurieuse oil la haine a vibre*. 

4 Pour raoi, j'aurai vide" la coupe d'amertune 
Sans que ma Ifcvre meme en garde un souvenir, 
Car mon ame est un feu qui brule et qui parfume 
Ce qu'on jette pour la ternir ! ' 

i I ere we have Lamartine in his natural grand 
attitude, and this " 6pitre a Nemesis/ marking as 
it were the first steps of the poet in the path of 
public affairs, brings me naturally to the orator and 

to the statesman. 


One evening in the last years of his life, Lamartine 

ted by his fireside, his head reclining on his 

t, in that somnolent state which had become 

habitual with him, and which was a condition between 

sleeping and dreaming. A couple of friends were 

seated not far away from him and talking in a low 

voice. The co; >:i gradually growing more 

animated, tl; -usly raised the:: . and 

the 1 to the otiu-r: I would sooner have 

280 T Years of Recollections 

written " Les Meditations " than founded the Second 
Republic.' Lamartine, giving a big yawn, turned 
round and asked : ' What were you saying, dear 
friend ? ' The friend slightly correcting the sentence, 
replied : ' If I had had the choice, I would sooner 
have written " Les Meditations " than founded the 
Second Republic.' ' Well,' answered Lamartine, ' that 
proves to me that you are only a simpleton.' With 
which he rose from his chair and in a second threw 
off his drowsiness. ' Let us put aside my own indi- 
viduality, look at the general question, and judge the 
immense superiority of the statesman over the poet. 
The one racking and exhausting his brain in marshal- 
ling words and harmonising sounds ; the other, being 
the real Word, that is the thought, the word and the 
act in one, realising what the poet only dreams, seeing 
all that is great and good in him convert itself into 
facts and beneficent facts, into beneficent facts which 
not only benefit the generations present, but often 
extend to most distant posterity. Do you know 
what it means to be a great Statesman ? It is a poet 
in the act of transforming his words into deeds.' To 
act, the need to act, the hope to be able to act was 
in fact, the constant preoccupation of him whom the 
world chooses to regard as a mere sublime dreamer. 
His most ardent admiration was reserved for Voltaire. 
And the reason ? ' Because,' as he said, ' there is not 
a single line of his that does not virtually constitute 
an act : not a word that fell from his pen or lips that 

.< of Recollections 281 

did not play its part in public affairs. Voltaire was 
for forty years the greatest event of his century. 
Hence people say the age of Voltaire, as they say the 
age of Louis XIV, and the age of Pericles.' 

To complete the portrait. One day, in one of those 
rare moments of effusion in which he showed the 
whole of his thoughts, for beneath the semblance of 
spontaneity and candour, he was very secretive, and 
perfectly self-controlled, keeping in his inmost soul 
certain hidden recesses into which no one, not he him- 
self perhaps, penetrated, one day then, he exclaimed : 
1 That one might be a Napoleon, less the sword at his 
side/ Here we have the thought lying deepest in 
Lamartine's heart. To rule over a great nation by 
the force of thought, to command by the force of 
intellect. To be the conqueror of his epoch, its do- 
minant power without shedding a drop of blood, and 
without imposing upon men any other yoke than that 
of justice, pity and generosity. ' Dreams and visions/ 
it will be said. Hut he managed to realise such a 
:i for three months, and In- pursued the vision 

The aneients named the poets TY//V.V, which means 
prophet. No man deserved the name better than 
Lamartine. lie wafl a seer. Some nameless instinct 
of divination : ! to him, at t time, i; 

public crises, and the part he should play in them. 
When one p at ion with I .ady Stan- 

in his 'Voyage en Orient,' 1 at 

r Years of Recollections 

the clearness with which he marks to himself his own 
goal, and with the consistency he proceeded towards 
it. If we study his character from the year 1832, we 
cannot fail to be struck with it At his first appear- 
ance in the Chamber, he is asked to which party he 
intends to belong : ' To the socialistic party.' The 
word had never been heard in a parliamentary as- 
sembly. ' Socialistic,' remarks his colleague, ' what 
does that mean? It is only a word.' ' No,' replies 
Lamartine, ' it is an idea.' ' But on which side are 
you going to sit ; there appears to be no room for 
you on any of the benches ? ' 'In that case,' replies 
Lamartine with a semi-satrical, semi-confident smile, 
' I'll take my seat on the ceiling.' A strange 
reply, no doubt, but characteristic of him and 
showing his nature. He always went by instinct 
to the spot whither wings only could carry him and 
support him when he got there. 

Superficial minds are apt to compare Lamartine as 
an orator, to a virtuoso who, when he has finished 
with his bravura songs, launches into poetical dithy- 
rambics, and often out of sheer fancy concerns him- 
self with a few practical questions ; for the reader 
should remember that he was one of the most ardent 
defenders of railways against Arago ; but to those 
who think, every one of his speeches shows the 
carefully premeditated conduct of the political man 
who shirks no problem, because he foresees that the 
day may come when he will have to solve them all. 

Si.vt}' YCJTS of Recollections 283 

One curious fact will show his powers of assimila- 
tion. The discussion of a grand project for a canal 
was clown in the order of the day. The deputy who 

to defend it falls ill on the very morning of the 
debate. The interested parties are advised to entrust 
Lamartine with the task. They go to his house and 
are told that he is in his bath ; nevertheless, they are 
admitted and after waiting a little while they are 
enabled to tell him their business. ' But I don't 
know a single word of the whole of that business,' 
protests Lamartine. ' We are going to tell you all 
about it,' is the answer. ' But there is not a man in 
the Chamber who is less of a civil engineer than I am.' 
1 That does not matter, a man like you can earn his 
diploma in a few moments.' ' Very well, tell me what 
I am to do.' They begin telling him while he 
remains in his bath, they continue their instructions 
while he is getting out of it ; they never cease while 
ig, they stay to breakfast and keep on 

liing him ; and tw. hours later Lamartine delivers 

a business speech, which is voted on all sides a 

marvel of clearness and accuracy. The was 

at, and the surprise greater still ; everyone 

lively astounded, everybody except Lamar- 

hi in self. ' I have been aware for many years of 
my Capacities as a practical man,' he said. ' Tin- 
people refuse to believe in them I. om- 
posc<: rfaapfl they would have believed it" tin- 
had. Till.. i innately then- arc- some 

Vfars of Recollections 

good ones among them, nay some beautiful ones ; 

\\hat has ruined me in their opinion.' 
: times, his foresight found vent in the rostrum, in 
words of prophecy. When the Chamber wished to 
the bill for the return of Napoleon's remains, 
Lamartine protested. The strange union of liberalism 
and imperialism under the Restoration had alw r ays 
shocked him. To him it was nothing less than a lie. 
He refused to be influenced by the fact that all the 
great poets of the period, French as well as foreign, 
Manzoni, Lord Byron, BeVanger, Victor Hugo and 
Casimir Delavigne had constituted themselves to 
coryphaei of Napoleon's immense glory. While fully 
admiring the genius, he kept relentlessly looking for 
the tyrant behind the conqueror, and launched against 
him that terrible anathema. 

4 Rien d'humain ne bntuit sous son epaisse armure.' 

This 'coupling 'of liberty and despotism seemed to 
him on the part of liberty nothing less than adulter- 
ous ; as a consequence he uprose against that 
triumphal return with all the strength of his eloquence. 
No more admirable words ever resounded from that 
rostrum, and when he felt himself vanquished at last 
he flung as a parting cry that solemn warning which 
to-day strikes us as one of the prophecies of the 
Cassandra of old ' Be it so then, seeing that nothing 
isfy you. Bring back his remains. Take 
column " as a pedestal for his statue ... it is, 

Sixty Years of Recollections 285 

after all his work, his monument, but I entreat you 
to write at least on the base "To Napoleon only." 
T<> Napoleon alone). 

In a little while Lamartine's opposition grew more 
and more conspicuous, though he never entered into 
any conspiracy or plot, whatever might be its aim.* 
No one was less of a conspirator than he, first, because 
to conspire means to be several, and because he liked 
to march alone ; secondly, because his generous dis- 

:ion disliked any and everything savouring of 
clandestine machination. But his speeches, his con- 

ition and eventually his books conspired for him ; 

ublished ' Les Girondins' which was both a book 
and an act. 

As a book it possesses a kind of peculiar merit, 
which is pretty well indicated by a sentence of 
Lamartine himself. On the day he ascended Mount 
Lebanon for the first time he was so deeply moved by 
the grandeur of the spectacle that there and then, and 

to face with the spectacle itself, he improvised a 

nificent description of it. One of his companions, 
a young officer could not help remarking: ' Hut \\here 
do you see all this, Monsieur <le Lamartine? I fail 

* I may be allowed to antii ipate in}' nairativc by ji: 
whi-h sun determin.-r from 

y refused to take pan in the 

; icn the leaders of the b 
merits had fina pie to meet them in the ; 

! reasons, hesita: 

ceed thitlu .1 ' I will go, though I had no 

but my shadow.' 

;ets led indirectly to the revolution of '48. TR. 

-So }'t'ars of Recollections 

to percc '-^v tiling of what you are describ- 

I don't wonder at that. I am looking at the 
scene with the eyes of a poet. You are looking at it 
with the eyes of a staff-captain.'* Here we have the 
merit and the defect of Lamartine as a historian at 
the same time. No one has depicted the grand days 
of the Revolution with greater force; no one has 
given more striking portraits of the principal actors 
in that drama. The reason why ? Because he sees 
them in the aggregate both with his bodily eyes and 
with those of his imagination ; because he transforms 
without disfiguring them ; in one word, because he is 
a poet Unfortunately, he is not sufficient of a staff- 
captain, hence, we have got an eloquent, fascinating 
book, full of pathos, and admirable just as a whole, 
but far less perfect in the matter of detail, which 
imperfection brings home to our minds the difference 
between accuracy and truth. Lamartine had read a 
great deal, but at random, unsystematically, and as 
fancy prompted him. He was as it were, unprovided 
with the capital of instruction, he had not even a 
library. A few volumes scattered about his room, 
trying to constitute themselves into a compact body, 
though even then they would not have had a permanent 
abiding place, made up the whole of his baggage as 

* A similar anecdote is told of Turner, when he showed his picture 
of 'Covent Garden' to a lady who had come to visit him. 'Very 
beautiful indeed, Mr Turner, but I have been to Covent Garden also, 
and I fail to see it as you do.' ' Don't you wish you could, madam ! ' 
said the painter somewhat bluntly. TR. 

}' t (trs of Recollections 

far as study was concerned. When in want of a book, 
he sent to the nearest bookseller's for it and read it as 
barristers read a brief, with that marvellous intuition 
which enables them to put their finger on the very 
passages they want, as if those passages had been 
written in red ink. That was Lamartine's method. 
I le devoured books, guessing half the time what was 
in them, assimilated their contents, transforming the 
latter as he went and passed on. Buchez and de 
Roux's Ilistoire Parliamentaire ' had given him the 
first idea of * Les Girondins,' he developed and com- 
pleted the idea by the feverish perusal of works 
pointed out to him by a friend ; then went in quest of 
more personal information. 

A curious story will enable us to get at the very core 
of that strange book which has been so badly judged as 
an act. Lamartine had been told that one of the last 
remnants of the Convention, one of the members of the 
Committee of Public Safety, and one of the most 
faithful friends of Robespierre was still alive; Dr 
Soubem'ellc, who was living in one of the Parisian 
faubourgs. One morning at about ten Lamartinc JHV- 
himselfat his domicile. The old man he was 
v-thrcc 'ill in bed. On seeing the illus- 

trioii tcr his room, I )r Soubcrx ielle gets 

into a sitting posture, without -howin- tin- sli- 1 
emotion at or intercut in the advent of the bearer of 
that name. The men of that by-one period 
did not trouble themselves much, and had but 

jss Sixty Years of Recollections 

admiration for anyone unlike themselves. Slightly 
inclining his head, covered with a cotton nightcap, 
the old member of the Convention asked in a curt 
and trenchant voice : ' What is your business with 
me, monsieur ? ' 'I have come to ask you for some 
correct particulars of the Convention, the history of 
which I am writing.' * You ! ' says the old man, look- 
ing fixedly at him ; then, with one of those vigorous 
expressions which formed part of the dictionary of 
yore, ' You haven't got guts enough to write that 
history,' * saying which he lies down again. La- 
martine was not a bit shocked at the answer either 
in the spirit or substance. That past participle did 
not frighten him in the least. In fact, he made fre- 
quent use of it himself, though it jarred somewhat 
with the general character of his poetry ; but, as 
Pascal has it, the human heart is made up of con- 
trasts. Consequently, he refused to take No for an 
answer, and finally obtained some valuable par- 

The book produced an enormous sensation and 
had a considerable influence on the events of the 
time, not because it was, as has been unjustly said, an 
apology of the Reign of Terror ; if it had been that, 
everyone would have shrank from it in horror and dis- 
gust, but because it was the apology of the Republic. 

I have considerably toned down the expression in English ; in fact, 
it would have been difficult to find the exact equivalent for the French 
verb, or rather the past participle of it, used by Dr Soubervielle. TR. 

Years of Recollections 289 

:artine reinstated the latter in its proper place in 
TV by presenting it in a poetical and grandiose 
form ; he purified it by lifting it out of the mire of 
atrocities of which it had been the victim rather than 
the accomplice; he stirred France to ideas of glory 
and liberty which seemed so many satires on that 
pusillanimous policy more or less tainted with the 
bourgeois spirit, the policy of abandoning the lead 
to other nations, which I must confess, I have 
not the courage to blame under the present 
circumstances, for after all what is a secondary 
position compared x to dismemberment and mutila- 
tion ? But in those days we still had the right 
to have national susceptibilities and to foster grand 
aspirations. ' Les Girondins* responded to those 
thoughts. Lamartine translated that undefined agita- 
tion of the public mind by the words which have 
become historical : ' France is intensely bored.' In 
short, like the grand seabinls, he felt that the storm 
1 plied his wings towards a distant goal 
ed. One of his friends, un- 
:it direction in which his i<h 

tending, and ha\ ; 1 him the reason, he replied 

textually, as follows * I see whither France is travcl- 
ril be waiting for her on the road ten \ 

I'll be there and she'll take me up by the 
.md I may be useful to her. . . . ' The u 
then: ave led us to the I ltel-de-\*illc. 

n. T 

290 Years of Recollections 


Lamartine's dream has been realised ; after ;i 
storm of twenty-four hours he stands at the helm. 
His unaffected greatness was admirable to a degree. 
During three months he governed, administrated, 
moderated, ruled, electrified the mob without an 
illegal act, however trifling, without resorting to 
violence or armed force, without firing a shot, with- 
out shedding a drop of blood. With what did he 
govern ? With simple words. When men swayed 
by the most furious passions and the most urgent 
needs, driven by the most fatal theories knocked at 
the doors of the Hotel-de-Ville, he' merely left the 
Council, stepped on a chair, spoke for a quarter-of- 
an-hour, asking ingenuously of those who accom- 
panied him : ' Is that right/ and the passions subsided, 
the roars and yells ceased, the savage brutes grew 
subdued ; it was no longer a scene from contem- 
porary history that was being enacted, but a scene 
from mythology. Such things had not been seen 
since the days of Orpheus. 

There were some magnificent days in Lamartine's 
tence during those three months. W T hich was 
the most magnificent? The day of the red flag? 
No. That of the manifesto? No. That on which 
he replied to the madman who clamoured for his 
head : ' Would to heaven you had it on your 
shoulders?' No. In my opinion the i6th April 

Years of Recollections 291 

and the 3rd May were the most memorable days 
uf that three months' reign ; the 1 6th April because 
on that day the great statesman showed himself at 
the same time the most skilful of diplomatists ; the 
3rd May, because on that day, Lamartine, in order 
to save the city, sacrificed more than his life which 
he had often risked with a smile on his lips, he sacri- 
ficed his popularity. 

I have in support of my contention some personal 
and accurate details. 

In March 1848, a house situated at the angle of the 

Rue de Rivoli and the Place des Pyramides and 

which had until then been used as the audit office of 

the King's household, was taken possession of in a 

free and easy revolutionary way by a young man 

completely unknown three months before. He had 

suddenly become very formidable by the publication 

of a paper, the very title of which, ' La Commune 

a standing menace. The young 

fellow's name was Sobrier ; I knew Sobrier; he was 

five- and si. \-and-twenty, honest, terribly in 

and fanatical beyond compare. He had 

i unquestionable proof of his sincerity, he offered 

\vholeof his fortune, twelve thousand 

mm. If all the /;/// /.vwerecom- 

d to furnish like proofs, their number would 

i Her than it is. Nothing tom lies 

the i, disinter. ;d roiise< jiiently 

Sixty Years of Recollections 

great and genuine. On the eve or on the morrow of 
great events, small bills of a reddish violet were found 
posted up at the street corners, merely displaying the 
laconic but threatening sentences: 'The people are 
not satisfied with the events of yesterday. If the 
provisional government commits such mistakes again, 
two hundred thousand of us will go and remind them 
of their duty. Signed Sobrier.' The mystery, the 
brevity, the firmness of the style had the effect of 
adding largely to the prevalent fear. True, people 
laughed among themselves at those everlasting two 
hundred thousand men who appeared regularly on 
those bills and whom no one had ever seen, but they, 
nevertheless, shook in their shoes. It was well known 
that the house in the Rue de Rivoli was the head- 
quarters of the Revolution, whence constantly issued 
pass-words and orders which the working population 

On the 1 6th April Paris was thrown into a great 
state of excitement by the rumour that a formidable 
popular movement was impending. I happened to 
be passing the door of Sobrier's ministry and went in 
to get the news. The yard, the staircases, every nook 
and corner resounded with the rattle of rifles ; sentries 
everywhere. As a matter of course, I was going upstairs 
when a sentry barred the way. ' You can't pass here.' 
1 1 always pass.' ' What is your business, citizen ? ' 'I 
wish to see Monsieur Sobrier.' ' Citizen Sobrier is en- 
gaged. ' That may be, but he will see me.' < Your 

ty Years of Recollections 293 

name, citizen? ' ' Monsieur Legouve.' I am bound to 
admit that I took a kind of fiendish delight in flinging 
broadcast the l monsieurs ' in the sanctuary erected to 
the cult of the civic virtues. All at once the sentry 
notices an apparently important personage coming 
down the stairs. 'Citizen,' he yells, 'here is citizen 

uvc who wishes to speak with citizen Sobrier.' 
' Let him go up.' ' Much obliged, monsieur,' I 
answer, and in another moment I find myself in a 
vast room where I behold Sobrier bending over a big 
table, his loins girded with a crimson sash with a pair 
of pistols sticking out of it and rapidly filling in small 
bulletins which he hands to orderlies crowding 
round him. 'You are just in time,' he said when 

ai-ht >ight of me. ' I want recruits, and I'll take 
you.' ' One moment,' I answered, laughing, ' I am 
not so easily taken as all that ; before I enlist, I must 
know with whom, for whom, and against whom I am 

^ to fight.' ' I am going to tell you.' Thereupon, 

all his bulletins bavin- been filled in and distributed. 

he leads me to a window recess and says : 'It is 

not!: than a question of saving Paris from 

wholesale massacre and burning.' ' I don't understand.' 

' There are people who arc born scourges of humanity 

Blanqui is one. While I am talking to you, he 

around him a hundred thousand madmen 

and who obey hi .mmands ; in an 

hour from now they'll start from the Champ de Mars 

:ited to inert and maivh to 

2^4 t of Recollections 

the Hotel-de-Ville ; they'll overthrow the government 
and butcher everyone who resists them, having made 
up their mind to set fire to everything in the event of 
their getting the worse.' Vastly exaggerated as the 
story seemed to me for in those days we failed to 
conceive the possibility of such monstrous things 
Sobrier's face and tone of voice produced a deep im- 
pression. ' Oh ! ' he exclaimed, clutching his head, 
while the tears stood in his eyes ; ' Oh, and I who 
dreamt of an angelic republic.' Then interrupting 
himself for a moment, he went on, in an intensely ex- 
cited, energetic tone. ' We must prevent this at all 
costs, and prevent it I will. I have promised La- 
martine.' ' Lamartine,' I repeated, ' you saw Lamar- 
tine ? ' * Yes, he sent for me during the night. We 
talked together for nearly an hour : it's all over, I am 
his, body and soul. My dear Legouve, what a man, 
what a sublime republican and what a magnificent 
strategist. He himself drew up the whole of my plan 
of attack. I am going to mass my men in the streets 
adjoining the route Blanqui will take, and when his 
vanguard and the front ranks of his main body shall 
have passed, I cut his band in two ; he shall find my 
two hundred thousand men between himself and the 
Hotel-de-Ville, and I defy him to advance.' 

The plan succeeded. The Hotel-de-Ville was pre- 
served from destruction, the provisional government 
maintained, the city saved, and the day that had 
been looked forward to with fear and trembling, was 

Years of Recollections 295 

converted into one of triumph for the friends of 
r ; so that, subsequently, when he was accused 
of having conspired with Sobrier, Lamartine was 
able to answer with a smile : ' Yes, I conspired with 
Sobrier as the lightning conductor conspires with the 

The 3rd May completed the work of the i6th 
April. Deeply impressed with the great services 
rendered by Lamartine, the Assembly proclaimed its 
intention of vesting in him alone the provisional 
rnment. He declined the honour. Then the 
Assembly proposed that, at anyrate, Ledru-Rollin 
should be excluded from the direction of affairs, 
which proposal was still more energetically declined 
Lamartine. This act with which he has been 
most frequently reproached, redounds most to his 
honour. He did not like M. Ledru-Rollin, the hitter's 
Jacobinistic opinions were repugnant to Lamartine, 
who was not even affected by Rollin's real oratorical 
talents. Hut Lamartine foresaw well enough that if 
Ledru-Rollin was not a member of the government, he 
would, perhaps, be its adversary and that with Ledru- 
11 added to the army of riot and disorder, riot 
and disorder ini-ht score the victory. In fact, it 
would be difficult for anyone to say what the revol- 
utionary movement of the i 5th May and tlu- terrible 

June would have been, if on the first of i 
days, Ledru-Rollin had left the side of L.unartine and 
on tl :id headed the revolt. People failed to 

J- /> ) >#>-.$ <?/" Recollections 

see the profound wisdom of Lamartine, they raised 
the cry of treason. The defenders of the party of 
moral order of that time accused him of having 
from sheer ambition and weakness compounded with 
the revolutionaries, from which it will be seen that 
the proverb to the effect that ' the days succeed one 
another, but are not like one another,' does not apply 
to parties in the State. The conduct of Lamartine 
was admirable in that respect, inasmuch as he foresaw 
calumny and announced beforehand the ingratitude 
which would be his lot. On the day he started from 
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to repair to the 
Assembly in order to show it the necessity of elect- 
ing M. Ledru-Rollin, he said aloud : ' Do you know 
what I am going to do ? I am going to save Paris 
and lose my popularity.' And he went. The elec- 
tion over, he left the Chamber, got into a cab with 
one of his friends, Comte d'Esgrigny, from whom I 
have these particulars, and after a moment's silence 
remarked : ' My dear fellow, the end has come. In 
another month, I'll only be fit to fling to the dogs.' 
In the course of his existence he has been justly com- 
pared to very great men indeed, but on that day he 
deserved to have his name associated with the name 
that remains purest in history, that of Washington. 

His forebodings proved true ; in a few days, in- 
fluence, prestige, everything vanished, leaving in their 
stead, pain, disappointment, and bitterness. The 
troublous days of June found him, as always, ready to 

Sixty Years of Recollections 297 

confront the danger, but they struck him a mortal 
blow. He had foreseen them in despair, and ex- 
pressed his anguish in one of those sentences, both 
ic and vulgar, which sprang rather than fell from 
his lips like a kind of explosion. 'We'll not get out 
of this, except by a tremendous sweep of the broom in 
the blood-stained streets/ All the subsequent events 
equally bitter, and the presidential election of 
the loth December (the election of Louis-Napoleon) 
filled his cup of patriotic grief to the brim. It was 
not the loss of power that broke his heart, but the 
knowledge that his work was being destroyed, the 
Republic overthrown, and liberty becoming a mean- 
ingless phrase, the sight of a nation enthusiastically 
prostrating herself before the name which had pro- 
voked his loudest curse. It seemed as if the sound 
of that name aroused the prophetic instinct once 
, as if it enabled him to see the penalty we should 
to pay one day for this fetichism, and like 
Brutus on the plains of Thessaly, he uttered the cry 
of despair: ' The >lc are unstable as sand. I 

ought to have had myself killed on the steps of 

--Philippe's tin-- 

And now I have come to th<e dark and la-l years 
which were- to him but a pr ainst 

the servitude of debt, during which, it must be 
admitted, he often failed in dignity from sheer pride. 
I lew, is too apt to remember what ! d to 

him. apt to forget what he owed to himself. 

298 Sixty Years of Recollections 

I will not stop to discuss the subject, remembering 
! do that delightful reply of Saint-Marc Girardin 
before whom some one charged Lamartine with 
improvidence and dissipation. 'There may be some 
truth in what you say, but I know many people who 
have put their names to as many bills and who have 
not put their names to ' Les Meditations." '* Besides, 
we ought not to forget that his trials became sancti- 
fied as it were by his unremitting labour, that the 
devotion shown under them invested them with a 
poesy of their own. Lamartine was no longer the 
Lamartine of old, the idea frequently eluded his grasp 
while the pen, like "Walter Scott's, still laboured on, 
laboured on without ceasing, to pay what he owed. 
Heaven vouchsafed to him an admirable auxiliary in 
that labour ; one instance will suffice to prove it. 

Lamartine had taken up his quarters for the time 
being at Saint-Point. One evening one of his friends 
came to stay with him for a little while. ' Yours is 
indeed an opportune visit,' said the poet. ' I have 
just put the last touches to a long article on B^ranger 
for the Siecle. Here are the proofs, read them, you 
will be delighted, it is a magnificent essay.' In due 
time the friend goes to his room and to bed, and 
begins reading the proofs. It had just struck mid- 
night when there was a knock at his door. ' Who is it ? ' 

* In order to preserve as^much as possible the epigrammatic turn of the 
remark, I have taken a liberty with the French text which runs, 'Mais 
je connais tant de gens qui en font autant ft quinon pas fait " Les Medita- 
tions.'" Tu. 

Years of Recollections 299 

he asked. ' It is I,' replied a gentle voice, ' Mme. de 
Lamartine, I wish to speak to you.' ' I can't open, 
madame ; I am in bed.' ' Never mind, the door is at 
the foot of your bed, just open it a little way and take 
this.' The friend does as he is told and takes a paper 
from the hand appearing in the aperture. Then he 
closes the door and reads : * There is on page 1 3 a 
passage that worries me. I fear it will hurt M. de 
Lamartine with the readers of the Siecle. Could it 
not be modified in this way ? ' The modification was 
excellent. The friend had just finished copying it on 
the margin of the proof when there was a second 
knock. 'Is that you, madame?' he 'asks. 'Yes, 
open your door as you did before and take this second 
paper.' And again he reads. ' On page 32, there is 
another passage which,' etc., etc. 

Is it not charming, this devotion, that purity of 
mind which for the moment forgets all convention- 
ality ; that purity which for the nonce dispenses with 
modesty, is it not touching indeed ? For we should 
bear in mind that Mme. de Lamartine was not only 
one of the iim^t -.aintlike of women, but a puri- 
tanical besides. And in sax-ing this, I am putting it 
mildly, she wafl an Knglishxvoinan xvho added Hritish 
prudery in exvry form to Freneh <1 ' \\ every form; 

neverthr bravely kn 

young fellow's door, undeterred by his answer that 

he JN in bed and quietly hands him through a 'door 

txvo little not- with their 

3OO 'r.irs of Recollections 

correspondence. The end of the story is worthy of 
the beginning. Next morning at the breakfast table 
Mme. de Lamartine starts interrogating her accom- 
plice by means of signals and looks, and he in his 
turn and by the same means conveys to her that 
the corrections have been made. ' Well, dear friend,' 
says Lamartine, ' have you read my " B6ranger ? " 
' Of course I have.' * Magnificent, isn't it' * Mag- 
nificent is the word, still there are one or two pass- 
ages. . . .' ' Don't ask me to make any changes ; 
I'll not make any, the thing is perfect' ' No doubt 
it is, still, if you will permit me to show you two 
slight modifications. . . .' Saying which, he hands 
the corrected proofs to Lamartine, who casts his eyes 
over them and exclaims : ' Excellent, very just indeed. 
You are perfectly right' Then turning to his wife, 
he says : * These things would never have struck you, 
my dear.' Mme. de Lamartine simply bent over her 
plate and smiled. 

This admirable companion through good and evil 
days, had to leave the man in whom her life had been 
centred to battle with the world. Not quite alone, 
though, for she had the comfort in leaving him, to 
bequeath, as it were, a devotion equal to hers, a' 
daughter's devotion, which tenderly watched over the 
last sad years, so full of anguish, of the poet, which 
vigilantly watches to-day over the poet's posthumous 
fame. The memory of Lamartine has its Antigone. 

His obsequies were marked by a pathetic incident 

Years of Recollections 301 

His remains were taken to Saint-Point, and left the 
rail at Macon. It was winter and snowing fast, as 
the hearse slowly wended its way through the small 
communes and boroughs scattered along the route. 
At the entrance to each village stood the priest wait- 
ing for the coffin to offer up a prayer. The bells of the 
different churches never ceased tolling, they answered 
one another, and announced to the more distant ones 
the approach of the funeral procession. At a short 
distance from Saint-Point an old peasant stood weep- 
ing on his doorstep. 'You may well cry, my good 
man,' said Jules Sandeau, taking his hands in his 
own, 'you have sustained a great loss.' 'Indeed, 
monsieur, he was an honour to our commune,' was 
the answer. The old peasant spoke the truth, La- 
martine was an honour to the commune as he was to 
the province, to the province as he was to France, to 
I-Y.mcc as he was to Europe, as he was to humanity 
at large ; he was an honour to manhood it 

What I wish to study finally in Lamartinc is the 

;;/</;/, that is, one of the strangest and most original 

being^ the wrld ha* produced. ( )ne's astonishment 

in him never CC8 -rything in him was both in 

harmony and in contrast. The aristocratic beauty <!" 

and the splendid gait was marred by a care- 

whkh K nous 

ifl princely air and inborn d Kloquence 

of tli and .striking kind, the- eUjn, 

of the tribune, full of sentef* -\<\\ outlined like 

302 s of Recollections 

medals and powerful ideas translated into brilliant 
language, the whole emphasised by a glass full of 
wine he was for ever waving over the heads of the 
terrified shorthand reporters. A crushing burden of 
debt, the existence of which he could not have ex- 
plained, for his wants were few, almost none ; he was 
as sober and frugal as an Arab. Not a single ex- 
travagant taste; in the way of luxuries he only cared 
for horses. Not a single vice ; I am mistaken, he had 
one, at any rate, he boasted of one, but the reason 
why he broke himself of it is so strange that I give 
it here as the finishing touch to his portrait. 

' When I was young,' he said, ' I was a passionate 
bier, but one night at Naples, I discovered an 
infallible means of breaking the bank. Of course 
from that moment, I could not go on playing, I was 
sure to win.' I have got an idea that that kind of 
gambler is not often met with. 

It has often been said that God had endowed him 
with almost every blessing, beauty, high-birth, courage, 
genius ; but something more rare than all those gifts 
had been vouchsafed to him, namely, the faculty to 
use them at will. They were ever ready to obey his 
call. No matter at what hour he was always ready 
to speak, write, or act. If a great danger came upon 
him in the middle of the night, when he was wrapped 
in sleep, no cry of surprise started from his lips, he 
displayed not a moment's fear. His heroism was 
there as he arose, his courage awoke when he did. 

s of Recoil a; 303 

It was the same with his poetical genius. Hi> 
r one day presented to him a young girl who 
wished for some lines from his pen for her album. 
Lamartine snatches up that pen and without a 
moment's reflection, without a second's hesitation, he 
writes as follows 

' Le livre de la vie est Ic livre supreme 
Qu'on ne peut ni fermer, ni rouvrir a son choix ; 
Le passage attachant ne s'y lit pas deux fois ; 
Mais le feuillet fatal se tourne de lui meme ; 
On voudrait revenir a la page qu'on aime, 
Et la page ou 1'on meurt est de"ja sous nos doi- 

After which he hands the paper in a careless way 

to his sister, who almost stupified by the beauty of 

the lines and his evident indifference, exclaims : 

' Forgive him, O Lord, for he knoweth not what he 

doeth.' His facility for writing verse was, in fact, 

such as to breed the thought that he was unconscious 

of what he was doing. Did he not one day say to 

a friend thoroughly engrossed in his work: ' What 

you doing, sitting there with your head in both 

'I am thinking,' was the an>\\vr. 'I low 

strange,' remarked Lamartine; 'I never think, my 

ideas think for me.' Truly, in the MI< -h a 

irk one is almost inclined to suspect that like 

miartine had a familiar demon, living 

within, acting and speaking for him. In any 

one feels bound n't that that demon \\ 

d him with 
thing but pity and goodness. Kindr the 

;o.j Sixty Years of Recollections 

distinctive trait of that admirable being, the supreme 
seal with which nature had marked him, the crown 
she had set upon all his other merits. There was 
a name-loss grandeur about Lamartine's kindness, 
which grandeur, in fact, stamped everything he did. 
\\\^ sympathy not only included the whole of 
humanity, but every living thing created. Like 
those saints of the Middle-Ages, who, it was said, 
were bound by a mystical affinity to the dumb crea- 
tures and whom legend represents to us as surrounded 
by animals, accompanying their every step, while the 
birds flutter overhead, Lamartine seemed to keep up 
a mysterious connection with the lower creation. He 
has painted it in words and images more telling even 
than the lines of Virgil and Homer. So great was 
the sympathetic power of his voice, look and mien 
that he seemed able to command by some name- 
less magnetic attraction the crowd of animals living 
under his roof, to keep them around him, their eyes 
fixed on his. Those dogs, birds, horses were not so 
many objects of amusement to Lamartine as they 
are to people with nothing special to do. He looked 
upon them as comrades, nay, as he said himself, as 
brothers. He interrogated, answered them, for he 
seemed to understand them. There was a constant 
communication, nay, communion between that superior 
soul and those ' mere germs of souls.' I can see him 
as it were but yesterday lying on the couch and con- 
versing on very serious subjects with two broken-haired 

.;: Years of Recollections 305 

terriers squatted at his feet, while a small greyhound 
was perched on his head ; the latter pretty animal 
executing such sundry graceful evolutions now and 
then that I could not help expressing my admiration. 
>k at her,' said Lamartine, without turning round, 
' she is listening, she knows we are talking of her, she 
is such a little coquette. . . .' 

There are, however, numberless people whose ex- 
ceeding great love for animals leaves them none to 
>w upon men. Lamartine did not belong to 
these, his humanity oven extended to human beings. 
1 1 is pity for, his generosity to, those who suffered was 
boundless and inexhaustible, and one day when one 
of his friends reproached him with some instance of 
extravagant charity, he replied, 'You'll not enter 
into the paradise of the good, you are not too good' 
No one could have levelled that reproach at him ; I 
leave the reader to judge for himself. 

A poor young poet, of the name of Armand Le- 
bailly, whm I knew, was slowly dying of consumption 
at the Saint-Louis hospital. I induced Lamartine to 

him a visit, feeling certain that his visit would do 
the dying man more good than the visits of half-a- 
hundred doctors. The moment we crossed the 

te-Catherine ward, I ;ht of the poor 

young fellow at the far end of the room. He was 
sittin the stove-, his elbows on the table, and 

his hands clutchii the Ion- hair <>n which 

almost hid 1. At the sound of our steps hr 


306 ) 'ears of Recollectiojis 

looks up with a wild terrified stare, but the moment 
he recognises my companion, stupefaction, joy, 
pride, sympathy, all struggle for the mastery in his 
features. Quivering like an aspen leaf, he rises, 
comes towards us and has barely the strength to 
bend reverently over the hand the great poet holds 
out to him and to touch it with his lips. Lamartine's 
conversation was simply a mixture of a father's 
kindness and a poet's goodness. He spoke to Le- 
bailly of his verses, he even repeated some of them, 
no Sister of Charity could have been more admir- 
able and considerate. In about a quarter-of-an- 
hour we got up and seeing that the patient 
wished to accompany him as far as the door, 
Lamartine said, 'Take my arm and don't mind 
leaning on it.' In that way we crossed that long 
room between the two rows of its inmates, some 
standing at the foot of their beds, others too weak to 
get off their chairs, others again raising themselves in 
their beds, but all taking off their caps as we passed. 
The name of the illustrious visitor had transpired, 
and had, as it were, thrown the whole of the hospital 
into a state of excitement. Lebailly's eyes flashed 
with pride as he looked to the right and left ; they 
said as plainly as words : ' This is my friend, I take 
his arm.' The poor fellow laughed and wept at the 
same time; he had ceased to suffer for the time being. 
When we got back to his carriage, Lamartine said : 
' This poor young fellow is no doubt very ill, but he 

\\u-s of Recollections 307 

may linger for a long while, and it would be well for 
him to have some comforts. Add this to what you 
;oing to give him.' Therewith he handed me a 
5OO-franc note. The reader may imagine my sur- 
when, three days later, I learnt that proceedings 
had been taken against Lamartine for a debt of 4000 
francs, which he was unable to pay. Face to face 
with a fellow creature's suffering he had forgotten 
what he owed. ' Sheer madness this,' wiseacres will 
exclaim. Xo doubt, it was sheer madness, but it is 
an instance of sheer madness that may safely be 
published, there is not much fear of contagion in 
that respect. 

And if I made it a point to wind up this sketch 

with the account of that charitable impulse, it is 

because it appeals to me as the most distinctive trait, 

not only of Lamartine's works, but of his life : namely, 

as something superhuman, superior to common- 

e itself. Commonsense is a most admirable 

quality in man ; cominonscnse prompts him to do 

very good things indeed, but it is not the motive 

a things. Commonsense makes neither 

heroes, saint nor poets. Commonsense 

would no more have sufficed t<> compose the ' Man i 

t<> Kurope,' or to get the upper hand of the 

rabble at the Hotel-de-Ville, than it would have 

i :ed to wi Medita: \ndiTLamartine 

ibled to delight the world, nay, to subdue 

that wo 'iily for one >hrt day. it is bo 

308 I 'ears of Recollections 

he has ever taken his standpoint on a more lofty level 
than that of the world ; because he has been a great 
poet, trying to put his precepts into practice. There 

. talk of erecting a monument to him ; if so, let 
those responsible for the idea remember what the 

cnts did. They crowded their forums with altars 
dedicated to youth, beauty, and valour. Let them 
raise a column dedicated to poesy, and place atop of 
it the statue of Lamartine. That is his rightful place. 
Right at the summit, looking up at the heavens, and 
commanding the city of which he has been the glory 
and the salvation. Let it be a statue which, like the 
God of Day, shall uphold a golden lyre with both 

* The projected monument took the shape of a niggardly bust, 
relegated to Passy, one of the suburbs of Paris. TR. 


The Portrait-Gallery continued. Beranger. My first meeting with him. 
His position in the World of Letters. His moral courage. The 
Atheism of the XVIIIth century and ours. Beranger's Religious 
Sentiments. His admiration for the Literature of Greece. His 
influence over Great Men. Whence it sprang. His Wit. His 
love of poor people and of young people. Three Letters. 


IT would be sheer ingratitude on my part not to 
devote some space to Be" ranger among the masters 
of literature of my younger days. Though we were 
never on very intimate terms, his influence over me 
was very real. Three letters of his placed at the end 
of this chapter will show him in one of his most 
and least known sides ; namely, as a 
literary advi 

It was in the salon of M. de Joiiy that I met 
i the first time. I IN position in that 
Bfl a prominent one. His talent com- 
ded admiration; his independent judgment, con- 
ration, and h: il tendency, fear. I le boldly 
the famous petition addressed to Charles X to 

lying tin- plays of 

310 of Recollections 

the romanticists, and this in the face of the signatures to 
that petition, for there was not a single one wanting, 
not even that of his host. He had the courage to 
take up the cudgels for Victor Hugo in that gather- 
ing, to place the ' Iphigenia ' of Euripides above that 
of Racine, he even dared to speak of God. In those 
days a goodly number of classicists were frankly 
atheistic. Let me explain. I do not mean the kind 
of dogmatic, democratic, pedantic atheism from 
which has sprung that intolerance of incredulity 
which would gladly condemn to the stake those 'who 
attend mass, just as in olden times they burned those 
who did not go to mass, not the atheism that drew 
from the brooding, savage Mallefille the * Don't talk 
to me of God, it is the despot of Heaven.' No, the 
atheism of the liberals of the Restoration savoured of 
the light bantering tone of that of the eighteenth 
century ; it was witty, good-natured, laughter-loving. 
I remember Lemercier replying to someone who 
spoke to him about the soul. ' Yes, I know, the soul 
that leaves the body when we die. You remind me 
of children who when they see a watch drop on the 
floor and find out that it has stopped, exclaim in a 
contrite voice : " Oh, the little thing is dead." ' Well, 
it was amidst that sceptical society, at one of M. de 
Jouy's Thursday dinners that Beranger, pressed to 
sing a new song, boldly intoned ' Le Dieu des Bonnes 
Gens.' At the sound of that first line 

1 II est un Dieu, devant lui je m'inoline ; ' 

Sixty Years of Recollections 3 1 1 

there was a general shock, almost like that at Mme. 
d'Epinay's on the occasion of Jean-Jacques Rous- 
seau's rising amidst the very impious sallies of Diderot 
and Holbach and saying, 'Well, I, gentlemen, I 
believe in God.' Beranger's attempt in this instance 
was prompted by a dual motive. He wished, first of 
all, to affirm his religious sentiments which were 
much more intense than people generally imagine. 
Beranger was not only a believer, but a Christian at 
heart, if not by faith. His favourite book was the 
Gospel. He often referred to the 'Sermon on the 
Mount' as a masterpiece of grandiose eloquence and it 
will surprise many to hear what he said to me one day, 
towards the end of his life : * It often seems to me that 
: rst PI! meet on my arnral in tJie other world will 
be Christ: 

His second aim was altogether literary. I am 
unable to say whether, as some of his friends main- 
tained, Beranger knew Latin, or whether, as he him- 
self maintained, he did not know it. One thing, how- 
rtain, he was by no means enthusiastic about 
the literature of the Latins. His admiration was en- 
ed for Greek poetry. 'Your Romans 
compared to the Athenians are only so many bar- 
he often said, and added: 'Athens is the 
genuine land of art.' In his 'Voyage Iin.i ;i:i,iirr,' 
there is an admirable picture <f his love for Greece. 

' \ \ i.u faut-il IJK luisc Hom&re, 

; , je fus G 

312 Sixty Years of Recollections 

Sous Pericles, j'eus Athenes pour mere ; 

Je visilai Socrate en prison ! 

De Phidias j'encensai les merveilles, 

DC 1'Ilissus j'ai vu les bords fleurir, 

J'ai sur 1'Hymete eveille les abeilles 

C'est la, c'ebt la, que je voudrais mourir . . . .' 

Fed, as it were, upon Homer, Euripides, Sophocles, 
nay Plato, he conceived the plan after his first 
success, to raise the level of the song, to enlarge its 
scope. He considered the title of ' successor to 
Dsaugiers ' a mild kind of glory ; he aspired to 
something better than to make Venus rhyme to 
Bacchus. He wished to move his hearers, to make 
them think, to put grand poetry into small couplets 
and introduce into the burden of his songs not only 
politics, but lofty questions of philosophy and ethics. 
' Le Dieu des bonnes gens ' was his first attempt in 
that direction and as he often told me afterwards, he 
quaked more or less when submitting his work to that 
distinguished and scoffing gathering. The success 
was simply immense. He had been clever enough to 
mingle with that confession of faith so many beauti- 
ful lines, so much patriotism, so much grandeur of 
imagery and now and then so much wit that they 
condoned the belief for the sake of the talent. His 
third strophe aroused the enthusiasm of everyone. 

' Un conqueYant, dans sa fortune altiere, 

Se fit un jeu des sceptres et des lois ! 
Et de ses pas on peut voir la poussiere 

Hinpreinte encor sur le bandeau des rois ! ' 

There and then the song writer was voted not only 

.SY.r/r Years of Recollections 313 

cat poet, but a great lyric poet. His preponder- 
ance in the literary world was singularly increased by 

It is difficult to get a correct idea nowadays of 
the part played by Beranger at that period. He was 
virtually the counsellor of the men of his time and no 
one wielded a greater influence over his contempor- 
aries. And yet, he by no means affected to possess 
such influence, nay, more, he in no way courted 
it. Very sober in speech, more sober in gestures, he 
waited until people came to him, but while waiting, 
he attracted. The most prominent men of that time, 
Manuel, Benjamin Constant, Laffitte, Thiers, con- 
sulted Beranger in everything they did. At the 
: ut ion of July (1830) Talleyrand expressed the 
desire to meet Beranger. But their relation to one 
another was that of two great powers ; they were like 
two sovereigns whose dignity prevents them from 
making the first call. Beranger would not go to the 
mansion in the Rue St Florentin where the Restor- 
ation had been hatched ; M. dc Talleyrand could not 
well mount the five flights of stairs leading to 

r*a domicile. They confined them 
talking to one another through intermediari---. there 

.in interchange of diplomatic noi 
I -.ttrr . MI, 1 inmanded the fricinUhi| 

of tin- t inter the nineteenth 

;l>naiid. I ..unart ine and I .amcnnais. 

d that their genillfl was 

3H " Years of Recollections 

superior to his own, and yet all three submitted, as 
it were to his dominion, all three made him their 
confidant, their counsellor, their arbiter, their inter- 
media rv in the most critical circumstances of their 
li\v-. It was to him that Lamartine imparted his 
dreams of financial speculation, Chateaubriand his 
never-ending complaints of money worries, Lamen- 
nais the misgivings of his conscience. Heaven alone 
knows how many days he spent in letting in some 
light upon the darkness of Lamartine's affairs. As 
for Chateaubriand's, Be"ranger used to sum up the 
situation in his jocular way : * What's the good of 
talking ? It isn't the poor fellow's fault ; he has 
never been able to do without a servant to help him 
to put on his breeches.' With regard to Lamennais, 
Bdranger did all he could to prevent him from fling- 
ing away his priestly gown. ' Remain a priest,' he 
kept on saying : ' remain a priest, you haven't the 
right to cease being a priest. Part of your honour 
is at stake. In your case, leaving the Church does 
not mean abdication, it means desertion.' Lamen- 
nais refused to be guided by him on that point, but 
like Bcranger's other two friends, continued to re- 
cognise the value of and to accept his advice in 

everything else. 


Whence came this singular influence on the part of 
a mere writer of songs ? It sprang from three things : 
first from his innate kindness. I never met with a kinder 

Si.vty Years of Recollections 315 

creature. He was charity personified. He lavished 
his time, money, advice upon others, he was for ever 
careering hither and thither, for the benefit of others. 
This constant pre-occupation for others found vent 
one day in a delightful remark of his. ' I wonder,' I 
said, ' that it does not bore you to dine by yourself so 
often. ' Faith,' was the answer, * I have got a sovereign 
remedy against being bored. I never think about 
myself.' I could quote hundreds of instances of his 
generosity. A poor woman whom he esteemed and 
liked very much came to confide to him her distress 
and the impossibility of finding some one to lend her 
some money. ' How much do you want ? ' asked 
BeVanger. 'Three hundred francs.' In those days 
three hundred francs was an important sum to 
Beranger. ' Here they are/ says Beranger, going 
t> his writing desk. 'I'll return them to you in 
six months, Monsieur Ik-ranger. ' 'Take your own 
time.' At the end of six months, the woman, 
faithful to her promise, brings him the three hundred 
francs, which he puts back into the drawer wh< 
he had taken them. After a twelvemonth she 
's once more to ask him to help her. He 
goes to his writing d 9 out the three hundred 

:id says, ' I felt certain you would be oh. 
to ask for them again, and 1 put them there in 
while. They wen- waiting for you.' 

The second cause tiger's inline: his 

marvelloiii commonse;i < The advl ,;ive you 

316 i Years of Recollections 

not only the best he could give but the best 
that could be given to you. No one had the gift to 
an equal degree of adapting the advice to the in- 
telligence, character, position and resources of the 
recipient. Finally there was the third cause of his 
great influence. That sound sense always assumed 
a pungent form and often a deeply philosophical. 
It never ceased to be sound sense and there was 
always an intellectual flavour about it. His conver- 
sation was not only charming but fruitful in suggest- 
ing ideas. It was delightful to look back upon. Not 
once but a hundred times did I discover that this or 
that idea, simply enunciated by Beranger in the 
course of a conversation and the justice of which 
had struck me at the time, gradually got hold of my 
mind, developed and grew there, until it finally bore 
unexpected fruit. It was like a living germ deposited 
within my mind. 

Beranger has been twitted sometimes with carefully 
preparing his epigrams, with polishing them before- 
hand and with repeating them after having used them 
once. Admitting the truth of this the harm would 
not be great, they were assuredly worth repeating. 
When Alfred de Musset sent him his first poems, he 
said : ' You have got magnificent horses in your 
stables, but you do not know how to drive them.' 
Then he added cheerfully : ' Never mind, you'll know 
one day; unfortunately, it frequently happens that by 
the time one does know, the horses are dead.' He 

;; Years of Recollections 317 

equally plain spoken with Lamartine who never 
resented it. One day, while talking to him about 
' Jocelyn ' for which he had an intense admiration, 
he remarked ' What a splendid poem, my dear friend, 
a poem full of genius of deep feeling and imagin- 
ation. But why the deuce did you put those two or 
three hundred lines in which must have been written 
by your concierge?' Lamartine burst out laughing 
and replied as frankly : ' Because, my dear friend, I 
am suffering from the serious defect of not being able 
to correct.' Lamartine was right, one of the last 
editions of his contains Variants which are simply so 
many blots ; whenever Lamartine changes an in- 
different line, he puts a worse in its stead. 

1'. not equally successful in his part of 

poetical adviser to Victor Hugo. He intensely 

admired I lugo's lyrical poems, but was by no means 

enthusiastic about ' Le Roi s' Amuse.'* I le was afraid 

of Victor Hugo's genius mistaking its direction, and 

called his imagination to his aid in order to point 

out. He conceived the idea of assuming the 

name of Triboulet himself ' Pray, sire-,' he wrote, 'do 

your fool leave to tug at your cloak and to tell 

you in a whisper what people dare not say to you 

And under that cover of the fool's cap and 

bauble. the poet some very subtle-, just and 

pointed, though withal mcaMin<l criticisms. V 

and remarked in a 

The original of ' The Fool's Revenge ' and ' Rigoletto.'- 

318 .T Years of Recollections 

way. ' 1 see very well what Beranger is driving at 
with this letter. He certainly thought it very brilliant 
and does not wish it to be lost to posterity, so he 
said to himself: "At Victor Hugo's death, all his 
papers will be published and my letter amongst them." 
But I'll upset his plan and will burn the epistle.' To 
which Beranger replied jocularly : 'If ever I feel 
inclined to address something to posterity, I shall 
certainly not select Victor Hugo as the carrier.' Let 
me hasten to add that Beranger was as ready to hear 
the truth as to utter it. One of his friends somewhat 
impatient at hearing him adopt about himself an 
humble tone which was not absolutely free from 
affectation, objected to it. ' Look here, my dear 
Beranger, why not have done with all this modesty, 
which cannot be altogether sincere. After all, you 
know well enough that you are very- talented.' For a 
moment Beranger sat surprised at this home thrust 
and remained silent, then answered : * Well, yes ; 
when I look around me, when I read what is being 
written nowadays, I come to the conclusion that I 
am not devoid of talent ; but my dear friend, when I 
begin to think of Corneille, Moliere, La Fontaine and 
other great men, a sincere and profound spirit of 
humility comes over me. Modesty, after all, is only 
the spirit of comparison.' This is but one of the 
sensible and judicious remarks that fell constantly 
from his lips. In defining modesty, he at the same 
time defined pride ; for if modesty can only be 

-; ]'t' t ?rs of Recollections 319 

maintained by comparing one's self to others, pride 
can only effect an entrance when we neglect to com- 

pare ourselves.* 


Throughout his life Beranger has had two great 
objects of predilection, poor folk and young folk ; 
one of the lines of his song on Manuel runs : 

' Coeur, tete et \ rns, tout e'tait peuple en lui.' 

This line is virtually his own portrait ; he was of the 
people, he understood and loved the people, he pre- 
ferred their company to any other. The blouse and 
the linen jacket pleased him a great deal better than 
the broadcloth coat. If a working-man happened to 
call upon him in the morning, he made him sit clown 
to breakfast by his side. His great admiration for 
Saint Paul sprang from the fact that Saint Paul while 

. had remained a weaver. 

for the interest he took in young people, 1 need 

only consult my own recollections and proceed to 

quote from them. for any and 

yone who gave the faintest hope or showed the 

promise of talent was such as to prompt him 

frequently to go to b< without waiting for 

1 M. Legouve* overrates Be*r.injjer's originality in this 

whom M. I.i-^nuvtf mention- in the first 

.or of his 'Recollections,' naim-lv, M. Renault ilc Saint-Jean 
;>rovoked a sinv the Abbe* (aftr- 

was nettle 1 at tin- l.uicr's 'pride of 
iv what he really thought he wa 
apart fi 

surroundings,' was the answer ; 'a g< 
them ' lU: i^-cr simply modified the propositi 

3 2O :v Yctirs of Recollections 

them to call upon him. The prize awarded to me by 
the Academic-Franchise for my poem brought me a 
letter from his pen. He wrote to me from ' La 
Force,' where he was undergoing a month's imprison- 
ment, and after having conveyed his gratulations 
in the most flattering and sympathetic terms, he 
invited me to go and see him. It is scarcely credible 
but I neither went to see him nor replied to his letter. 
Why, <h, why ? Because I was too timid, because I 
felt a kind of false shame. Young people often suffer 
from those unaccountable scruples. In those days 
my admiration for great men was so intense that 
more than once I went as far as their door without 
having the courage to ring the bell. I remember that 
every now and then while talking to M. Lemercier, 
I suddenly stopped in the middle of a sentence, 
saying to myself : * What's the use of telling him. 
He knows every word of what I am going to say to 
him.' It was absurd, but at that time I was ignorant 
of the fact that youth in itself possesses such a charm 
as to convert its awkwardness into gracefulness and 
that people take an affectionate delight in watching 
young people's confusion. 

As soon as B6ranger came out of prison, I wrote 
him a letter, expressing my regret and apologising 
for my neglect which brought me the following reply. 
I transcribe it in extenso and without expunging the 
flattering remarks, because they testify to his loving 
sympathy with young beginners. 

Sixty Years of Recollections 321 

'MONSIEUR, M. de Jouy had indeed apprised me of 
your intending visit to La Force, and I felt proud to 
think that a brow with the laurels fresh upon it would 
stoop beneath the prison gates in order to come and 
see me. I am glad that our friend told you of my 
disappointment, seeing that to-day I am indebted to 
it for a proof of your appreciation, which, believe me, 
affects me very much. I read the verses to which 
you owe your public success, long ago, and the poem 
contains something even more precious than beauti- 
ful verses ; the feelings which pervade the whole at- 
i lofty soul, and I cannot but rejoice, monsieur, 
to find that everything in you foreshadows the 

liy bearer of an already illustrious name. It 
only makes me more anxious to become acquainted 
with you. If I knew the exact day you intended 
calling, I would make it a point of remaining at 
home to welcome you, for except on Thursdays I am 

ly always running about on business, which 
makes me afraid of missing your promised visit un- 

you would be good enough to appoint the day. 

Hut, after all, moiisu-ur, I have one other resource 

left, namely, to call upon you, in order to express my 

nd cordial feelings, and the interest which I 

wards you. 

'Your very humble servant, 

BBS \ . 

">ctof>tr 30, 1829. 

Sixty Years of Recollections 

Here is his second letter. I had published a 

me of poems under the title of ' Les Morts 

Hi/arres' and sent him a copy, asking him at the 

same time for his advice. It was his answer to my 


4 MONSIEUR, The most skilful way of getting 
cd by the majority of men, and above all, by 
those who are advanced in years, is to ask their advice. 
I am perfectly certain, though, that no such inten- 
tion prompted your request for my advice. If I could 
harbour such an idea for a moment, the candour with 
which every one of your lines is stamped would be 
the most effectual appeal against such a suspicion ; 
hence, monsieur, since you have appealed to my 
candour, my praise will be somewhat stinted. 

* I like the elegy to the memory of your father 
exceedingly ; the sentiment by which it is inspired 
throughout makes it touching from the first line to 
the last. I should regret its greater perfection, 
because a more correct style and a more concise 
fnrm would hamper the expressions of your heart 
and contrast painfully with them. 

' But it seems to me that the subsequent pieces, 
with the exception, however, of the fragment on 
" Maria Lucrezia," which I except because it is full of 
feeling like the elegy, would have required more 
careful workmanship, a less "happy-go-lucky" phrase- 
ology, a greater firmness of versification and often a 

of Recollections 323 

more sparing use of detail. Nowadays, monsieur, 
finished versification has become compulsory. That 
finish is often carried to the verge of affectation and 
this may be the cause of your dislike to it. Hut 
you are too enlightened not to avail yourself of the 
good there may be in a thing. 

By this time you are becoming aware of my 
freely using the permission you have granted me ; 
I may, perhaps, be led to abuse it. 

' The title of your collection of poems, which 
implies a premeditated choice of subjects, was cal- 
culated to inspire me with a certain mistrust of the 
subject themselves. I am inclined to think that 
accident suggested two of the subjects to your mind ; 
after that, you probably looked for the third and the 
next Ought the real poet, and you are one, mon- 
sieur. to proceed in that way without being compelled ? 
poet's idea should be like the female flower; it 
should await the fertilising dust the male flings into 
air, and confides to the winds. A subject de- 
liberately looked for will rarely command the inspira- 
tion ution reijiiir 

'And here I must interrupt myself for a moment, 
i looking over what I have written, I feel s>me- 
\\ha: d of the part you have assigned to 

innocence of 1 

For it is no doubt a \ , to make a 

some .miniated s, >ng writer like m 

hoolmaster ; and I < annot help 

324 J 'ears of Recollections 

laughing at it myself, though it will not prevent me 
from treating the second heading of my sermon. 

1^ Mort de Charles-Quint," monsieur, contains 
some very noble passages, and the drama seems to 
me as complete as the framework would allow. 
Nevertheless, I prefer to it "Phalere" which is 
founded upon a powerful and true idea, rendered 
very happily. As for " Pompei," some passages struck 
me as very inferior, but others gave me the impres- 
sion of unquestionable merit, such as for instance that 
of " The Slave " and that of " The Last Love Couple.' 1 
The latter have reconciled me to the unsatisfactory 
tone of the poem as a whole. If I am to sum up my 
impression, monsieur, I will frankly tell you that 
throughout the volume there is ample proof of real 
talent, of inspired talent, but which lacks a deter- 
mined purpose. You appear, up till now, not to 
have asked yourself in what way to utilise the happy 
gifts accorded to you by nature, and pending the 
revelation in that respect by your own vocation, you 
are beguiling the time with preludes on a lyre, the 
whole resources of which you are already fully able 
to appreciate. 

'Yes, monsieur, I trust that, encouraged by the 
memory of a father so justly regretted, you may add 
to the 'glory of the reputation he has bequeathed to 
you. As far as I am able to judge, you have only 
to work and to persevere in order to accomplish 

Sixty Years of Recollections 325 

' Pray excuse the length of this letter and my 
frankness which is perhaps somewhat too great At 
the age of twenty I had the pleasure of coming in 
contact twice with the author of " Le Merite des 
Femmes." As a matter of course we talked about 
poetry ; he was kind enough to give me some sterling 
advice which I have not forgotten. My letter, I trust, 
will prove to you that I am not ungrateful. I only 
regret my inability to discharge my debt more 
hily. But I cannot help repeating : what induced 
you to apply for literary advice to a song writer who 
does not even know Latin? 

* Pray, accept, monsieur, the assurance of my great 
esteem and my sincere devotion. 


Starch 10, 1832.' 

This is a curious letter in more than one respect. 

To begin with, it shows the uncommon candour of 

tiger, his great faculty of judgment and at the 

same time a peculiar trait of his character. Like 

most people fond of bantering others, he stood greatly 

ir of being bantered ; like most clever people he 

stoo< >eing selected as the victim of 

T people ness or even of exposing himself 

ion of being made such a victim. I le is 

always on his ^ linst such a possibility 1 

not hesitated for a moment to point out this 

, that it diminishes in no way his 

326 .y Years of Recollections 

innate sentiments of justice, goodness and moral 


' Les Morts Bizarres ' met with but a meagre success 
and I felt greatly discouraged. For a little while I 
made up my mind to abandon poetry and to go to 
the bar ; for a little while only. Nevertheless, I felt 
in a state of painful uncertainty. I really did not 
know which road to choose. My prize poem had no 
doubt put my foot in the stirrup, but several roads 
were open to me and I did not know which to choose. 
I had reached that painful period when a young 
fellow is feeling in his way. I made up my mind to 
consult Beranger. Here is his reply 

* Have you an idea, monsieur, of the awkward, nay, 
the fearful predicament you place me in by honouring 
me with your confidence ? Are you aware that you 
are virtually asking me to preside at your literary 
existence? No doubt, this is a great proof of your 
esteem, and I cannot but feel greatly impressed by it, 
but unfortunately this is not sufficient for me to accept 
a mentorship of that nature. In your letter you 
stand self-accused of not having been to see me 
sufficiently often ; well, monsieur, this confession on 
your part explains my hesitation to reply to your 
letter, amiable as it is in that respect. How, in fact, 
can one lay down a rule of conduct for a man whom 
one has not had the opportunity and time to study. 
Your reply will be that I have read your different 

y of Recollections 327 

essays. Is this sufficient, think you ? A few works 
more or less able (for I am not so severe towards you 
as you are yourself) only afford the measure of a 
man's intellectual qualities. But how can I decide 
with regard to the character of the man. " What does 
that matter ? " most of our young men would say. 
According to me, it matters much, especially in an 
epoch like ours when one should look for no support 
except from one's self. Without attempting a thorough 
appreciation of your character, I have got an idea that 
you possess dominant tastes which are bound to influ- 
ence the tendency of your mind ; and unfortunately I 
am absolutely in the dark with regard to those tastes. 
You have the misfortune to be what people call a 
young fellow in happy circumstances. From the 
moment of your birth, fate has smiled upon you. 
You yourself admit that but for that craving for 
glory, nothing would be wanting to your happiness, 
r mind, that happens to be your own particular 
fad, I would fain cure you of it ; but when fate gives 
:it, the chances are that she gives us one 
thing too many. Well, my dear lad, go on pursuing 

hich domes to us from tin- 
middle of the wilderness, take care it does not drag 
you thither. Then- ifl only one way open to you 
to avoid such misfortune; try to In- useful. That is 
law God imposes on every man, in literature 
that law becomes more- stringent than ever. Do not 
those who are content with art for .1: 

3-S Sixty Years of Recollections 

try to find out whether there does not exist within 
yourself some creed of humanity or patriotism on 
which you may hang your efforts and your thoughts. 
You have a kind heart, a generous and liberal mind ; 
as yet, the world cannot have succeeded in spoiling 
them by its flatteries, it cannot have removed all 
feeling of sympathy for your fellow creatures. Well, 
that sentiment, if properly consulted, will prove a 
safer guide in your studies and your work than 
anything the most learned men can tell you ; such 
a sentiment has sufficed to make of me, weakling as 
I am, something ; something very fragile, no doubt, 
but after all, something. 

' My language, monsieur, will no doubt surprise you, 
it is so utterly unlike anything you are in the habit of 
hearing in your own set, but believe me, I am only 
trying to explain the principles that have guided 
my conduct since I attained the age of discrimina- 
tion ; that hour struck very early for me, for at fifteen 
I was obliged to assume the duties of a man and to 
look to my own education. To those who would 
oppose the example of a great poet to that of an 
humble songster and who would tell you that Byron 
had no faith, I would say that Byron, the representa- 
tive of an aristocratic state of things, which is fast 
tumbling to pieces and disappearing, could only have 
had negative beliefs. But they were, after all, beliefs, 
and there can be no doubt that his were, in a certain 
sense, as strong as his genius was magnificent. Be- 

y Years of Recollections 329 

lieving, as he must have done, that the aristocracy was 
the flower of humankind and seeing it blasted on all 
sides, he could not but curse and reach that state 
of misanthropy, furious and ironical in turns, which 
has been so idiotically aped in France. But what 
is misanthropy after all ? Simply a disappointed 
ill-requited love passion. 

' At your age the love passion is attended by hap- 
pier results ; your heart is in the full flush of youth, 
let its concern be for others as well as for yourself; 
extend the scope of your investigations, and above 
all do not be misled by the fictitious surroundings 
amidst which happy circumstances have placed you. 
Your mind and heart will soon find food for your 

itations, and one day when you least expect it 
their direction will be revealed to you. Nature has 
mapped out the use for every faculty she bestows, we 
only to go on looking for it long enough. 
Lear ig that you are fit to learn ; med 

seeing that you can command leisure to meditate ; 
but, above all, let your concern be more for ot 

' I feel that all this "senile drivel," will appear \ 
vague, nay, ridiculous to you; pray do not mind 

:ig me so; you asked m ; Ivice, and I im- 

parted my secret to you, it was the l>est way to show 
that trust begets trust I sincerely hope that 
you will look upon this letter as a proof of friendship 
and esteem. I wish you to believe in those my 

StJi'tv Yctu-s of Recollections 

feelings for you and to consider me at your disposal 
whenever you may want me. It will never be too 
often. With all my heart, yours, 


I consider it wisest not to add anything to this 
letter. Its publication is prompted by a deep feeling 
of gratitude and by the hope that it may prove as 
useful as it has proved to me, for this letter has often 
stood me instead of counsellor.* 

* Of all the portraits in this 'Gallery' there is not one so strikingly 
' like ' as that of Beranger. What is perhaps more curious still with 
regard to his literary influence is, that after many years it remains with 
the educated classes. It is no uncommon thing to heafr people in the 
best society clamour for a song of Beranger. There never was a soiree 
at M. Thiers' in which his friend, Mignet a great professor, did not get 
up and recite one. TR. 






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PQ Legouve*, Ernest 
2337 Sixty years of 

L23Z513 recollections